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Charles Koch and his fossil fuel industry allies are waging an ongoing campaign to limit consumer choice and stifle clean tech innovation by attacking clean transportation standards, electric vehicles (EVs), and other clean energy solutions.

Though Charles Koch has long fought to keep America dependent on oil and gas, in recent years these efforts have increased and refined focus to combat clean energy policies at the federal, state, and local levels.

Since the election of President Donald Trump, the Koch brothers installed their allies at the top levels of government—from administrative agencies like the Departments of Energy and the Interior to the White House itself.

Meanwhile, Koch-funded and affiliated groups are actively targeting programs and policies that support the development of low-carbon, clean energy solutions, and especially those that encourage the transition to electric cars. We provide more background on Koch’s efforts to undermine clean energy progress here.

Background on the Koch brothers’ efforts

The Koch brothers gained international notoriety in 2010 when Greenpeace and allies revealed that the Koch brothers had secretly spent over $88 million to fund the climate science denial machine, supporting groups and campaigns that deliberately worked to make Americans doubt the consensus of climate science. 

A few months later, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer exposed their role spending “dark money” to cultivate the Tea Party movement and to fund a number of “free society” campaigns to undermine Democratic leadership on issues like health care and tax policy.  

The Koch brothers also have a long history of funding attacks on clean energy, a practice that has ramped up in recent years. Since 2015, Koch funds and Koch Industries affiliates have helped launch Fueling U.S. Forward, a PR campaign promoting the virtues of oil and gas, the Energy Equality Coalition to fight against the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit, and Energy4US, a front group that bundled public comments supporting a rollback of fuel efficiency standards. In 2018, a Koch Industries subsidiary commissioned a study that undermines the value of the EV tax credit and the American Energy Alliance, run by Koch Industries’ former top lobbyist, promoted a push poll that skews public support of EVs.

Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy arm of the Koch empire, has consistently organized efforts on the state and federal level to promote oil and gas consumption and weaken clean energy and clean transportation policies. AFP frequently deploys its many state chapters to attack incentives for the public to purchase or lease EVs, and also to campaign against renewable portfolios standards and even mass transit projects.

The Origins of Koch vs Clean

In 2016, an investigation by Peter Stone revealed a Koch network plan “to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.”

Koch vs. Clean, a DeSmog project, was launched to expose the individuals, organizations and tactics behind these senseless attacks on electric vehicles, consumer choice and the innovative clean energy technologies the public demands and deserves.

In August 2016, a new oil and gas front group called Fueling U.S. Forward launched with a slick website, flashy GIFs, and infographics, confirming Stone’s reporting and the Koch-funded campaign to promote oil and gas and combat electric vehicles.  

Barely a year after launching, Fueling U.S. Forward was shut down—a full history is recorded here—but other Koch-funded efforts endure. Front groups like Energy4US and Koch-tied advocacy organizations like the Institute for Energy Research continue to support the Koch’s goals of keeping Americans dependent on oil and gas.

KochvsClean will continue to track these groups, expose their misinformation campaigns, and debunk the myths they perpetuate.

There’s more info on various Koch-affiliated efforts on the Resources page. We also debunk many of the Koch-perpetuated myths about electric cars here on EV Facts.