Stephen Hayward

Advice for Koch's PR team

Koch Industries' facebook page - was posting such a clear link to well-known deniers the wisest PR move?

Memo to:      the Koch PR team
From:           Polluterwatch
Re:               over-zealous PR unlikely to help your clients

Dear Koch PR team

It's good to know who you are now – thanks to a story over at Politico.  But perhaps we can offer you a little bit of advice? 

We note that you’ve been getting to work on your new Koch account, placing stories in the New York Times about funding cancer research and the like. (Good distraction tactics!).

We also note how active you’ve been on the Koch Industries, Inc Facebook page

We understand that the brief from the Kochs is to fight back against the terribly bad name they’ve been getting over the last year.

And while we know the Koch brothers fund the deniers (as documented in this Greenpeace report), we also know that they’ve made you go to great lengths to distance them from any involvement. Major fail for you then when Wikipedia found out that your web guys, New Media Strategies, had created sock puppets to edit out the links and banned them from the site. Ouch!

But did you take another step too far last week?  A new post appeared on Koch Industries’ facebook page on 19 March saying:

      “A Berkley scientist explains how activist scientists managed to "hide the decline" in recent global temperatures.
"You're not allowed to do this in science,"   Richard Muller explains.”

It links to a puff piece on Power Line by serial denier Steven F Haywood (more on him later),  promoting one Richard Muller’s denier views on climategate.  

ClimateProgress has unearthed what Muller is up to – he’s co-chairing the rather prestigious-sounding “Berkely Earth Surface Temperature Study” – another recipient of Koch Funding. 

Seems the whole project is a ruse to challenge Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick findings from the early 1990’s – a challenge raised by the so-called "climategate" scandal.  As Think Progress points out: 

     "why would Berkeley want to be associated with the Kochs?"

And why investigate the Hockey stick findings, which have been backed up by at least five other studies?   The deniers have focussed on the Hockey Stick argument (that shows global temperatures spiking upward, like a hockey stick) as their benchmark for whether global warming is happening and whether it’s caused by human activities. But this is despite strong signals from different areas of science that all point in the same direction

That’s the same Richard Muller who has, as Climate Progress points out:

      "has actually worked to undermine credibility in well-established science.”

(Latest:  Climate Progress has now discovered that the Berkley project is not turning out the way Muller and the Koch’s want it to go – turns out that their preliminary results show that the temperature records are dead right.  Oops!  Findings are summarised: 

     “We are seeing substantial global warming” and “None of the effects raised by the [skeptics] is going to have anything more than a marginal effect on the amount of global warming.”

The presence of Muller and climate-scientist-turned-denialist Judith Curry is bad enough.  

But Haywood? Do you not know who this guy is?  If ever there was a Koch-funded climate denial mouthpiece, it’s Steven F Haywood.  He’s a fellow at four of the Kochtopus-funded think tanks.  They’ve all had quite a bit of funding from your clients 1986-2009:
Reason Foundation ($2,536,521),
Heritage Foundation ($4,110,571),
Pacific Research Foundation ($1,515,800) and
American Enterprise Institute (only $150,000 from Koch but Exxon gave them $2.8 million).  

So the total Koch money to Hayward’s groups is $8,312,892.  Add Exxon’s $4,341,000 and that adds up to a massive $12.65 million of denial punch.  

No wonder you guys were excited about linking to his piece. But was it wise?  Does Koch really want to be openly associating itself with Hayward and Muller – and “climategate?”   This is the first time we’ve seen such an open association by Koch to undermining the climate science.   Very useful for us – but doesn’t this rather undermine the Koch’s ongoing denial that they are linked with these climate deniers?

And finally, while we’re discussing your Facebook page, another word of advice: if you’re going to promote stories that you’ve managed to place in blogs, perhaps drip them out slowly?  

During the Wisconsin protests, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group led the tea party in support of Scott Walker and Koch became a lightning rod for protestors. (Bet that got you going).

Nice work lining up all the bloggers to support Koch - but posting them all in one day on Facebook?   Six posts in just a few hours? 4th March was a busy day for you.  But seriously, if you’re going to go on the offense, maybe make it a little less obvious?  

We know you must be paid an awful lot by this client – are they really getting their money’s worth?  Or did you leave your Facebook promotion up to New Media Strategies? 
 

Servants of Oil Increase Funding and Misinformation in Prop 23 Battle

Following voter opposition to Proposition 23 and the recent surge in funding to counter the oily measure, Texas refiners Valero and Tesoro (who "are not oil companies," by the way)  have respectively added $1 million and $500,000 to the fight.  The dirty energy proposition would victimize clean energy jobs and development, not to mention legislative innovation and an already struggling climate.

There has been a lot of confusion about how Prop 23 relates to jobs, as the oil industry has cultivated fears of job loss through some questionable studies.  The Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, which is funded by the likes of Art Pope and the Koch brothers, has crafted a report designed to create hysteria among economically-wary Californians (read: most Californians), claiming formidable implications on jobs and state economic output. 

The funny thing, and by funny I mean dishonest, is that this report conveniently avoids looking at the economic benefits of the climate law that Prop 23 would cripple.  It also fails to mention that by the end of the decade, Proposition 23 will make California electricity cost 33% more.  And it also doesn't note that the report's author has worked for the Cato Institute, which Charles Koch founded and David Koch remains a Board member, and the Manhattan Institute, yet another think tank funded by the likes of Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.  For a deeper look, check out what Rebecca Lefton has to say about the Pacific Research Institute's selective look at California's climate law.

Beyond publishing their own flawed report, the Pacific Research Institute is also promoting another attack-study to help sell Prop 23.  This publication has been heavily scrutinized--to the point of invalidity--by California's Legislative Analyst's Office, the Business Alliance for a Green Economy, and two professors from Standford University and UCLA.

This is not the first time that the Pacific Research Institute has used flawed studies to attack clean energy progress, as they continue to do with the heavily-touted, heavily-debunked "Spanish study."  Pretty typical for one of the Kochtopus' many tentacles.

For an excellent map of the oil money fueling Proposition 23, refer to Dirty Energy Money.

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