If You Care About the Climate, Pay Attention to Koch Cash

Earlier this month President Joe Biden did announced new methane restrictions at COP26 conference requiring methane emissions reductions of 30 percent by 2030 from more than 100 countries. The move underscores the importance of climate regulation, especially given the daunting prospects for national action by Congress.

But Biden will have a hard time avoiding the reach of dark money at its regulatory hub, particularly from the United States’ largest private company, Koch Industries. Since 2005, Charles Koch has overseen nearly half a billion dollars in grants to hundreds of colleges across the country. One university research center – with millions in Koch and ExxonMobil funding – is particularly poised to combat this shift: George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center. The Regulatory Studies Center leverages George Washington University’s reputation to provide scientific credibility to journal articles and public commentaries advocating deregulation.

For 11 years, the RSC has successfully undermined federal environmental regulations, cultivated a hub of deregulatory soft power, and seen its members rise to influential regulatory positions. As a GWU student who has been doing research at the RSC for over a year, I’m here to tell you that it’s so much more than just a campus topic. If you have an interest in US climate policy, watch out for the RSC. If my research and Follow-up report To be clear, the center is allowed to silently disrupt regulations on behalf of the fossil fuel industry for too long.

The fossil fuel industry capitalizes on the RSC’s close relationship with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the agency responsible for approving or disapproving regulations based on their economic impact. OIRA is an attractive target for corporate interests because distorted versions of cost-benefit analyzes portray regulations as a net loss to society and justify their rejection or change. RSC Director Susan Dudley and frequent contributor John Graham have both served as OIRA directors at various stages of the George W. Bush presidency seven of the eight Individuals who have ever had to be confirmed as directors of OIRA have contributed to the RSC, either through articles, public commentary, or as panelists at events hosted by the center. As a result, the Center wields immense power in setting the OIRA agenda and enabling the fossil fuel industry to build an institutional consensus.

The RSC trains its employees to take on strong regulatory positions. Sofie Miller specialized in the regulation of the Department of Energy in her work as an RSC research analyst and implemented the highly deregulatory suggestions of her RSC research when she joined the department in 2018. Miller has since moved to OIRA where she was accused stop the review process for Biden’s energy regulations. In addition to Müller, three former RSC fellows currently work as analysts at OIRA and iIn 2019, RSC Community Fellow Tony Cox was appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Board, where he campaigned for less regulation on air pollution. Last to the consternation von Progressives, RSC Research Professor Bridget Dooling joined Biden’s regulatory transition team and helped shape the Biden administration’s regulatory agenda.

The RSC has won several federal political victories, none of which are more notable than the recalibration of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) used by regulators to reduce the negative economic effects of CO. to determine2 Emissions. The SCC was valued at $ 50 a ton when it was founded under Obama, but RSC worked tirelessly against that standard, posting a total of 10 articles and public commentary advocating a reduction. When the SCC was reduced to a level of $ 1 or $ 7 – depending on the discount rate – an article was published by RSC members was cited as EPA Reason for policy change. By reducing the SCC, the Regulatory Studies Center helped reduce the calculated economic benefits of all proposed CO2 emission regulations and increase the likelihood of rejection.

Now that methane regulation is at the center, the RSC is sure to keep a noisy role in political discourse. When the EPA starts ask Comments on Biden’s methane regulation, I know it will be heard by the RSC. As the prospects for resilient climate policies dwindle and the threat of climate change draws nearer, the Koch-funded research center at George Washington University only gets stronger.


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