Tea Party Climate Change Deniers Funded by BP and Other Major Polluters

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

Tea Party Climate Change Deniers Funded by BP and Other Major Polluters

by
Suzanne Goldenberg

US Senate climate change deniers and Tea Party favourites including Jim DeMint and James Inhofe are being funded by BP and other polluters. (Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

BP and several other big European companies are funding the midterm
election campaigns of Tea Party favourites who deny the existence of
global warming or oppose Barack Obama's energy agenda, the Guardian has
learned.

An analysis of campaign finance by Climate Action Network
Europe (Cane) found nearly 80% of campaign donations from a number of
major European firms were directed towards senators who blocked action
on climate change.
These included incumbents who have been embraced by the Tea Party such
as Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, and the notorious
climate change denier James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma.

The report, released tomorrow, used information on the Open Secrets.org
database to track what it called a co-ordinated attempt by some of
Europe's biggest polluters to influence the US midterms. It said: "The
European companies are funding almost exclusively Senate candidates who
have been outspoken in their opposition to comprehensive climate policy
in the US and candidates who actively deny the scientific consensus that
climate change is happening and is caused by people."

Obama and
Democrats have accused corporate interests and anonymous donors of
trying to hijack the midterms by funnelling money to the Chamber of
Commerce and to conservative Tea Party groups. The Chamber of Commerce
reportedly has raised $75m (£47m) for pro-business, mainly Republican
candidates.

"Oil companies and the other special interests are
spending millions on a campaign to gut clean-air standards and
clean-energy standards, jeopardising the health and prosperity of this
state," Obama told a rally in California on Friday night.

Much of
the speculation has focused on Karl Rove, the mastermind of George
Bush's victories, who has raised $15m for Republican candidates since
September through a new organisation, American Crossroads. An NBC report
warned that Rove was spearheading an effort to inject some $250m in
television advertising for Republican candidates in the final days
before the 2 November elections.

But Rove, appearing today on CBS
television's Face the Nation, accused Democrats of deploying the same
tactics in 2008. "The president of the US had no problem at all when the
Democrats did this," he said. "It was not a threat to democracy when it
helped him get elected."

The Cane report said the companies,
including BP, BASF, Bayer and Solvay, which are some of Europe's biggest
emitters, had collectively donated $240,200 to senators who blocked
action on global warming – more even than the $217,000 the oil
billionaires and Tea Party bankrollers, David and Charles Koch, have
donated to Senate campaigns.

The biggest single donor was the
German pharmaceutical company Bayer, which gave $108,100 to senators. BP
made $25,000 in campaign donations, of which $18,000 went to senators
who opposed action on climate change. Recipients of the European
campaign donations included some of the biggest climate deniers in the
Senate, such as Inhofe of Oklahoma, who has called global warming a
hoax.

The foreign corporate interest in America's midterms is not restricted to Europe. A report by ThinkProgress,
operated by the Centre for American Progress, tracked donations to the
Chamber of Commerce from a number of Indian and Middle Eastern oil coal
and electricity companies.

Foreign interest does not stop with the
elections. The Guardian reported earlier this year that a Belgian-based
chemical company, Solvay, was behind a front group that is suing to strip the Obama administration of its powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

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