Friday night’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC took aim at billionaires Charles and David Koch and their efforts to block clean energy projects in Kansas and other states.
Maddow began the segment by running down a list of billionaires who are managing purely by dint of their financial resources to steer their state and regional politics further and further to the right.
“As campaign finance laws have fallen apart, basically every state across the country has started growing their own conservative activist political zillionaire,” she said.
The kings of this kind of high-stakes election-influencing, she said are “two of the richest men on earth,” the Kochs, who announced on Friday that they are channeling $125 million into a new campaign promoting their think tank Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
“One of the ways that Koch Industries makes its mountains of money,” Maddow said, “is by refining oil. And one of the legislative priorities for the now giant national network of Koch-related political groups is opposing alternative sources of energy that are not oil.”
AFP and its allies in the Kansas state legislature have sponsored numerous bills blocking clean energy projects and trying to kill a law mandating that a percentage of the state’s energy come from renewable resources, but so far, none have passed.
This year, Kansas voters received postcards warning that the renewable energy requirement would drive up their utility bills. Local news outlets did some digging and found that the new company distributing the misleading postcards was staffed, run and financed by Koch lobbyists and other employees, but their director insisted he was acting on his own “personal” interests, not those of AFP.
Maddow welcomed Kansas State Rep. Steven Becker (R) to the show, who said that wind energy is booming in his district. A factory that builds wind turbines employs thousands of his constituents.
Becker said that wind energy could be a huge economic boon for the state.
“The Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity,” he said, claim they’re arguing in favor of “free-market” energy solutions, but “I think that argument fails because in Kansas, we don’t have a free market when it comes to electricity.”
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