Attack of the Kochtopus in Florida

Stephen Smith | September 18, 2014 | Energy Policy

We have always known we are up against powerful and wealthy adversaries in the fight to promote clean energy, but now we have proof that we’re really ruffling some dirty feathers. Americans for Prosperity, a ‘dark-money’ organization sponsored by the notorious Koch Brothers, has unleashed an attack ad aimed squarely at SACE.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a front group founded and largely financed by the billionaire Koch Brothers, who have a vested interest in preserving the fossil-fuel status quo. Koch Industries Inc. is heavily involved in nearly every fossil-fuel market; they own several oil refinery subsidiaries, lobby heavily in the oil and gas industries, and engage in oil and gas price speculation that drives up costs for consumers while driving profits to their own accounts.  Not to mention Koch Industries’ tarnished environmental record which includes 300 oil spills in 6 states and massive greenhouse gas emissions.

The long arms of the Koch Brothers, courtesy

AFP’s negative ad comes straight out of the Koch Brothers playbook. They’ve sponsored similar hits in states around the country where they felt their interests were being threatened.  In Arizona, they portrayed solar customers as stealing candy from crying children as part of an effort to roll back net metering, and in Kansas they attacked former Governor Kathleen Sebelius for supporting a renewable portfolio standard.  In fact, the Koch family has been funding anti-science, pro-polluter policies for over twenty years.

Given the AFP’s wealthy backers, it’s deeply ironic that their ad attacks SACE purportedly on behalf of Florida ‘working families’ concerned with energy policy’s impacts on their wallets. Claiming that SACE “thinks you don’t pay enough” for your utility bills is clearly disproven by our record of standing up for Florida consumers through fighting utilities’ money-grabbing schemes like the nuclear cost recovery charge which unfairly charges consumers billions for un-built nuclear plants, advocating for energy efficiency measures, the cheapest energy resource available, and working to unlock the solar potential in the Sunshine State to provide a cheap, abundant source of power. We are constantly working to protect consumers from monopoly utilities’ self-interested strategies. Contrast that with the policies AFP and the Koch Brothers have poured billions into supporting. Now, who do you think has an ‘agenda’?

I’m going to take optimism from this ugly ad and know that we must be getting close to victory to have inspired such an attack. As Gandhi observed, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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