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TV Show ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ to Ask, “Who Killed Electric Car Sales in Georgia?”

Just two years ago, Georgia was an unlikely national leader in electric vehicle sales. Boosted by one of the nation’s most generous state-level EV tax incentives, by early 2014, Georgia trailed only California in EV registrations. Then, in January 2015, a new measure slipped into the state’s $1 billion transportation bill killed the credit, and added another $200 annual fee for EV drivers. Electric car sales immediately fell off a cliff. Continue reading “TV Show ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ to Ask, “Who Killed Electric Car Sales in Georgia?””

Here’s the Energy Agenda from the Koch Brothers’ Guy on the Trump Transition Team

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The energy agenda of the incoming Trump administration just got a lot clearer. A memo sent by Thomas Pyle, President of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research (IER) and head of the Trump transition’s energy team, laid out “The Trump Administration’s Energy Plan.”

The memo, which was received and published by the Center for Media and Democracy, was sent by Pyle to a private email list just days before the Trump team announced that it would replace a Koch lobbyist with Pyle, a Koch-funded former lobbyist, to lead the Department of Energy transition team efforts.

Pyle is the President of both IER and its sister advocacy organization, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), which are both heavily funded by the Koch brothers and their affiliates. Last year, IER and AEA received $3 million from the Koch donor network. Charles Koch was one of the original founders and board members of IER. Pyle’s Koch connections run even deeper, having served as Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries from 2001-2005.

The “Trump Administration’s Energy Plan” reads like a fossil fuel industry wish list, including 14 policy proposals such as:

  • Withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Climate agreement;
  • Increasing federal oil and natural gas leasing;
  • Lifting the coal lease moratorium;
  • Eliminating the Clean Power Plan;
  • Expediting approvals of LNG export terminals;
  • Moving forward with pipeline projects including the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline;
  • Rolling back federal fuel economy standards;
  • Ending the use of the social cost of carbon in agency rulemaking; and
  • Reconsidering the “endangerment finding” that found greenhouse gases to be a threat to public health and welfare.

The memo from Pyle was echoed in a blog post on the AEA website published on Friday, December 2, which lays out “A Blueprint for America’s Comeback” and includes many of the same policy proposals, similarly worded. The entirety of original memo is uploaded on the ExposedByCMD blog.

Are the Koch Brothers Controlling Trump Through Appointees?

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This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

Despite the fact that Trump campaigned against special interests and suggested his primary opponents who begged for Koch cash were puppets, he now seems to be happy to #StaffTheSwamp with Koch operatives.

Beyond Myron Ebell and David Schnare on his environment team, news broke last week that Trump picked Steven Groves to lead the Department of State “landing team.” Groves is an international policy wonk at the Koch (and Exxon, and Korean gov’t) funded Heritage Foundation, and just last week, he wrote an article advocating for a pull-out of the UNFCCC as a way to exit the Paris agreement.

As the negotiating framework for the UN’s climate efforts and the underlying basis for the Paris agreement, if the US were to leave the UNFCCC, it would remove us from the negotiating table altogether.

Not only would this “lead to political consequences with our allies,” as Groves admitted in a House Science hearing last April, but it would also mean that Trump wouldn’t be able to negotiate an amazing new treaty on climate, as the US would no longer be part of the negotiating framework.

But contradictory advice is nothing new to the Heritage Foundation, which during the Farm Bill fight in 2013 told the GOP to split the bill into two parts. When Republicans did as they were told, Heritage still wasn’t happy. Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina said that “Heritage was now scoring against Republicans for doing exactly what Heritage had been espousing only a month before.” Because of this stunt, as well as their push for 2013’s government shutdown, former House speaker Boehner said that groups like Heritage had “lost all credibility.”

Unfortunately, from the top of the Trump administration down, a distinct lack of credibility seems to be the unifying factor. But it is ironic that despite the Koch network’s distinct lack of effort to Trump get elected, they are nonetheless filling Trump’s administration with their operatives, from VP Pence to CIA chief Pompeo to Ebell, Schnare and Groves. And on the Energy Department front, it’s been reported by E&E that Thomas Pyle of Koch-funded American Energy Alliance is running the transition, while the Interior is being led by Doug Domenech, of Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation. And according to PoliticoPRO, on the Treasury team are Heritage-affiliated Bill Walton and Curtis Dubay.

The question is: does Trump even know the Kochs are pulling his strings? Or does he really think he’s “No puppet”?

Koch-Funded Former Lobbyist Replaces Koch Lobbyist on Trump’s Energy Transition Team

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Thomas Pyle, President of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance, has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the transition to the Department of Energy. E&E News reported on Monday that Pyle would be replacing Mike McKenna, who had to step down from the transition team because of the Trump team’s crackdown on registered lobbyists.

McKenna, President of MWR Strategies, currently lobbies for a number of energy industry companies , including a contract with Koch Industries that dates back to 2008.

Michael Catanzaro also stepped down from the DOE landing team. Catanzaro is currently a registered lobbyist for Koch Industries. (More on Catanzaro’s lobbying history and deep oil ties on DeSmog.)

As Lee Fang wrote in The Intercept,

The Koch Industries lobbyist who was overseeing transition efforts on energy and the environment will be replaced — by a former Koch Industries lobbyist who leads a think tank funded by Koch Industries.

The Trump transition team publicized some ethics standards that essentially demand that anyone on the team deregister as a lobbyist and promise not to lobby for five years. But former lobbyists (even those registered as lobbyists at the time of assignment to the transition team) are totally fine, as is anyone working for a lobbying firm without formal registrations.  

Fang described Catanzaro’s and Pyle’s trip through the revolving door to the DOE’s transition team.

Michael Catanzaro, who was set to oversee the transition at the Department of Energy, is a registered lobbyist for fossil fuel giant Koch Industries.

Catanzaro’s departure on Friday made way for Thomas Pyle as his replacement.

Pyle is currently the president of the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank founded directly by Charles Koch, the chief executive of Koch Industries, and also funded by Koch-backed nonprofits. IER broadly supports more drilling and mining of fossil fuels, and regularly criticizes climate change scientists for daring to call for controls on pollution. Before joining IER, Pyle worked as a registered lobbyist for Koch Industries and served as the Koch Industries Director of Federal Affairs, a lobbying job, from 2001 through 2005.

McKenna, Catanzaro, and Pyle aren’t the only Koch affiliates to make their way into Trump’s transition efforts, and we’ll be looking at other Koch ties to the Trump administration in coming weeks.

Trump himself offered a glimpse at his energy policy priorities in a YouTube video published Monday that briefly outlined his plan for his first 100 days in office.

“I will cancel job killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs,” Trump said. “That’s what we want. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.” The President-elect didn’t speak to any particular Department of Energy efforts, nor did he discuss how his administration would address the two energy sectors that are fastest growing in terms of both employment and electric generating capacity—solar and wind.

Image: Screenshot from IERDC on YouTube.