CLIMATE CHANGE; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 111
(Senate - July 11, 2016)

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[Pages S4948-S4952]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                             CLIMATE CHANGE

  Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I have risen on several occasions to 
bring attention to the challenges confronting our ``we the people'' 
system of government that President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently 
described all those years ago as one ``of the people, by the people, 
and for the people.''
  I have talked about the powerful special interests working to corrupt 
the nature of our Republic, thanks to the unchecked wealth flowing into 
our political system because of the Supreme Court's series of misguided 
decisions in Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United, and SpeechNow.org.
  Today, I am honored to join with my colleagues from Minnesota, New 
Hampshire, and Connecticut--organized by my colleague from Rhode 
Island, who will be speaking in a moment--to show how these same 
special interests are using their vast wealth and resources to sway 
national policies and public debate to benefit their interests at the 
expense of the American people and turn our government into one of, by, 
and for a powerful special interest. There is no better example of what 
I mean than the debate surrounding one of the most critical issues 
facing our Nation and the world today: climate change.
  Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously stated that ``everyone 
is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.'' Well, 
manmade climate change is a fact. Scientists, universities, and 
government agencies across the world have all said that manmade climate 
change is real, that it endangers our planet, and that we need to 
address it quickly if there is any hope for our future.
  Back in 2005, 11 science academies from around the world--including 
Brazil, Italy, Japan, and Russia--signed a joint letter stating that 
``there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is 
occurring'' and that ``it is likely that most of the warming in recent 
decades can be attributed to human activities.'' Five years later, the 
Pentagon stated very directly that ``the danger from climate change is 
real, urgent, and severe.''
  Fast-forward 5 more years to 2015, and the American Association for 
the Advancement of Science warned that ``we face risks of abrupt, 
unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes'' with potentially 
``massively disruptive consequences to societies and echosystems.''
  The fact is, we don't really need to turn to our scientists or 
studies to know that climate change is real; we simply have to look at 
the world around us. We can see and feel it for ourselves. We saw it 
when 2014 became the hottest year on record, and then we saw it again 
in 2015 when 2015 became the hottest year on record. We see it as our 
forests come under assault from longer fire seasons and insect 
infestations because the winters are not cold enough to kill the pine 
beetles. We see it in our waters, our loss of snowpacks, as fishermen 
fish in ever smaller and warmer streams for trout and salmon, and our 
farmers face less water for irrigation. We see it in the oceans--oceans 
that are 30 percent more acidic today than they were before we started 
burning coal at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The acidic ocean 
is endangering our sea life, killing coral, and causing a real 
challenge for our shellfish. We see it in the droughts that hurt our 
farms and the increasingly powerful storms that regularly devastate 
communities, businesses, and people's lives.
  Why, with all of this proof from the scientific community and with 
all of the proof and facts directly before our eyes, does such strong 
opposition remain to the effects of climate change? We know the answer. 
It is because a powerful, moneyed interest has spun a web of deceit, 
working for years and continuing to work to undermine mainstream, 
scientific research and deceive the American people about the dangers 
and causes of climate change.
  These members are part of a special interest that have made their 
fortunes from fossil fuels. If they acknowledge the realities of 
climate change, it would suggest that their industry would have to 
dramatically change in a very short period of time. In fact, according 
to conventional science, we have to keep 80 percent of fossil fuels in 
the ground if we are to have any hope of keeping carbon emissions 
within a range that does not trigger catastrophic consequences. That is 
why, in the minds of this industry, it is better to lie to the American 
people than to risk their businesses and fortunes.
  We have seen this movie before, when the tobacco industry lied to the 
American people for decades to discredit the emerging science and 
evidence that tobacco was killing millions of Americans. And now the 
fossil industrial complex is lying to the American people, but this 
time it is not just the health of Americans at risk, it is the health 
of the entire planet.
  The Union of Concerned Scientists published a report last summer 
which showed that for decades the ``fossil-industrial complex'' 
knowingly worked to deceive the American public about the realities and 
risks of climate change. One of the main ways they do this is by 
funding third-party organizations like think tanks, advocacy groups 
that produce counter-climate research and make people question which 
facts and information they can trust. We know this is happening because 
various studies have revealed the incredible level of coordination 
between different groups and researchers who always see corporate 
funding and who all seem to work off the same scripts.
  Justin Farrell, a sociologist at Yale University, authored a study 
last November that examined 20 years' worth of articles, policy papers, 
and transcripts from 4,500 individuals associated with 164 different 
groups known to be skeptical of climate change science. Comparing the 
work of those who had received this special interest corporate funding 
and those that had not, he found a clear, coordinated effort among the 
corporate-backed groups that cast

[[Page S4949]]

doubt on the idea that greater amounts of manmade carbon dioxide 
endangered our planet. Talking about his study, Farrell said that 
``this counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at 
creating ideological polarization through politicized tactics, and at 
the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with 
scientific findings of their own.''
  We know these groups are backed by special interests. All we have to 
do is follow the money. That is how we know, for example, that between 
1998 and 2015 ExxonMobil donated at least $30 million to groups and 
organizations whose main purpose was to spread misleading information 
about climate change. It was discovered in paperwork connected to his 
paper between 2014 and 2015 alone that Peabody Energy funded at least 
$332,000 through a subsidiary to groups and organizations involved in 
attacking climate science and clean energy policies.
  As much as the fossil fuel companies have contributed to these 
efforts over the years, the titles of the masterminds and the kingpins 
of climate science denial rests with Charles and David Koch. These oil 
and coal baron brothers, whose estimated $80 billion fortune comes from 
oil refineries and coal reserves in Texas, Alaska, Minnesota, and 
elsewhere, control roughly over 4,000 miles of pipeline. These are the 
same businessmen who have pledged that they and their network of 
contributors will have spent the better part of $1 billion by the time 
the polls close on November 8 to try to influence the outcome of this 
year's Presidential and congressional elections.
  Since 1997, the Koch brothers have directly funneled $88 million to 
think tanks and trade associations, advocacy groups, foundations, and 
academic and legal programs which deny the existence of climate change.
  According to a 2013 study from Drexel University, they are effective 
at getting their friends to give their money as well. The study showed 
that most of the other largest contributors to the anti-climate science 
movement were associated with the Koch brothers. The foundation run by 
the DeVos family and Art Pope, a retail magnate from North Carolina, 
are a regular part of the Koch brothers' donor network.
  That same Drexel study also shows that as the public opinion about 
climate change has shifted in recent years, the sources of funding for 
many of these organizations has become untraceable. On paper, for 
instance, Koch affiliated foundations have pulled back significantly on 
visibly funding organizations that deny climate change. It just so 
happens that funding from other sources, such as Donors Trust, a donor-
directed foundation where funders cannot be traced, has risen 
dramatically at the same time. The traceable funding of this network in 
DC has decreased, and the untraceable funding has increased. According 
to its Web site, Donors Trust specializes in being untraceable. Our 
trust is for those ``who wish to keep their charitable giving private, 
especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues. Know that 
your contributions to your DonorTrust account that have to be reported 
to the IRS will not become public information.''
  In 2003, only about 3 percent of the denial movement came from Donors 
Trust, but by 2010, as the Drexel study shows, the foundation 
responsible for providing a quarter of ``all traceable foundation 
funding used by organizations engaged in promoting systemic denial of 
climate change.''
  The sources of the denial movement are being laundered so the 
American people do not have a direct vision of those responsible, but 
we know from all of this evidence who is responsible. Could it just be 
coincidence that at the same time the Koch brothers reduce their 
traceable donations to climate-denying science groups, the amount of 
untraceable money going to them increases dramatically? Yes, I suppose 
it is possible, but it would be a very large coincidence.
  So we know that the Koch brothers have been prolific contributors to 
the climate change countermovement over the years, and it is very safe 
to say that they are continuing to contribute anonymously to the cause 
of organizations like Donors Trust.
  But what is the result of all of this? What has been the return on 
their investment?
  We have seen report after report from groups like the Koch-founded 
and Koch-funded Cato Institute with titles like ``Apocalypse Not: 
Science, Economics, and Environmentalism.'' Or how about this one: 
``Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry About Global Warming.''
  We know that a grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation 
helped fund a nonpeer-reviewed study which claimed climate change 
doesn't endanger polar bears.
  Now, I do a tremendous number of townhalls--one in every county every 
year, 36 a year in Oregon--approaching 300 townhalls since I was 
elected into office. Many of these are in rural areas where people get 
a lot of their information--well, to put it simply--from web sources 
and emails and lists that are often directly driven through a rightwing 
propaganda machine. These are the types of things that the Koch 
brothers try to spread in order to undermine what is happening before 
our very eyes. When I talk to my rural townhalls about the challenge, I 
say: You know what; climate change is impacting you all most of all. It 
is attacking our forests and our fishing. It is attacking our farming.
  I go through the evidence on the ground in the State of Oregon, and 
people start shaking their head. Yes, they are aware of the pine 
beetle. They are aware of the longer forest fire season. They have 
heard about the oyster industry in trouble because of the increasing 
acidity of the Pacific Ocean. They are aware of how the Klamath Basin 
has suffered the three worst ever droughts in a 15-year period because 
the snowpack in the Cascades has changed so much over the last few 
decades, reducing the amount of irrigation water flowing in to the 
region and the amount of rain that is falling. They are aware of these 
things. So then they understand it, and they see the reality. Then 
there is a glimmer of understanding that the messages spun out by this 
vast web of denial is false and that they are on the front line. Rural 
America is on the front line.
  Reports and studies funded by the Koch brothers muddy the waters of 
scientific fact, making it much harder for the average person to sort 
through and sift through the information that is available and to know 
what the real story is.
  But where we see the Koch brothers' and friends' money paying off the 
most is the influence they are able to manifest here in Washington, DC. 
As we work to take on this challenge--the equivalent of an approaching 
meteor bent on destroying a good portion of the planet--as we work to 
take it on, they work to make sure we don't take it on, undermining the 
legislation that is being put forward to incentivize a rapid transition 
from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy.
  Obviously, an emphasis of pivoting from fossil fuels to renewable 
energy would undermine the value of the Koch brothers' holdings. It 
would undermine the value of the fossil industrial complex. So they lie 
to the American people.
  We see one substantial strategy after another. We know that the 
summer that cap and trade was being debated in 2009 and climate change 
started to become a focus of tea party rallies, a lot of that was 
organized by Americans for Prosperity--yet again a Koch-founded and 
Koch-funded organization.
  The issue seeped into townhalls and public forums, with some members 
of the audiences planted at various events by groups like Americans for 
Prosperity to raise the issue. Anti-cap-and-trade members of Congress 
regularly quoted from a study by the Heritage Foundation, another Koch-
funded organization. They predicted that the bill would add thousands 
of dollars to Americans' energy bills and lead to devastating 
unemployment--claims thoroughly debunked by the Congressional Budget 
Office. But in the Koch brothers' climate-denier, fossil-industrial 
complex world, facts don't matter and that our planet is at risk 
doesn't matter.
  They even use piles of letters sent to Members of Congress that 
falsely claim to come from actual constituents. They worked to build 
pressure from outside groups, and eventually the Koch brothers and 
their allies won. The cap-and-trade bill never came up for a vote here 
in the Senate, even though it had passed the House. That was the

[[Page S4950]]

type of return on investment the Koch brothers sought. They wanted to 
use their money and their resources to stop legislation that could have 
helped the American people and the world begin to reverse recourse on 
the tragic direction we are headed.
  That is not a government of the people, by the people, and for the 
people. That is a government against the people. That is, instead, a 
government of, by, and for a powerful special interest.
  Every one of us here has a public responsibility to act on behalf of 
our Nation's national interests. We are stewards of the public trust. 
We are responsible for helping to guide the United States and helping 
the United States guide the entire community of nations into a future 
of greater well-being. To do that, we must take back our Republic from 
the special interests like the Koch brothers who are determined to 
corrupt our public bodies and our public debates for their own greedy 
self-interests. We must work together to restore the ``we the people'' 
government our Founding Fathers envisioned.
  I am proud to come here to the floor to join my colleagues from Rhode 
Island, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. I particularly 
appreciate my colleague from Rhode Island for organizing this series of 
speeches to expose the special interests behind the anti-climate 
science forces and to ensure that, as President Lincoln so eloquently 
declared on those hallowed fields of Gettysburg, ``Government of the 
people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this 
Earth.''

  Thank you, Madam President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I will be the final speaker tonight. 
The point that I want to make is that when we spend this time talking 
about the web of denial that sabotages America's ability to respond to 
the climate crisis, we don't just use this word rhetorically. We can go 
into the academic research and see the web depicted in peer-reviewed 
scientific research. We can see the means by which it operates--the 
climate change denial machine in academic research. We can hear about 
the think tanks that are used in this web of denial.
  Constantine Boussalis of Trinity College and Dr. Travis Coan of the 
University of Exeter have examined more than 16,000 documents published 
between 1998 and 2013 by these 19 conservative think tanks. Their study 
demonstrated that in spite of the broken global heat records over the 
last decade, rising sea levels, and the accelerated melting of our 
polar ice sheets, these 19 conservative think tanks actually increased 
their attacks on climate science in recent years. These 19 think tanks, 
the authors tell us, ``provide a multitude of services to the cause of 
climate change skepticism.'' These include offering material support 
and lending credibility to contrarian scientists, sponsoring 
pseudoscientific climate change conferences, directly communicating 
contrarian viewpoints to politicians--which is how we get infected with 
that nonsense here--and disseminating skeptic viewpoints through a 
lackadaisical media that can be tricked into believing them--all, of 
course, while keeping the industry's hands hidden.
  The American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Center for the 
Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Competitive Enterprise 
Institute, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Citizens for a Sound 
Economy, Fraser Institute, Foundation for Research on Economics and the 
Environment, Heartland Institute--remember, they are the classic with 
the billboard comparing climate scientists to the Unabomber--the 
Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, Hudson Institute, Manhattan 
Institute, George C. Marshal Institute--it takes a lot of nerve to 
steal that man's name; George C. Marshal was an American hero--National 
Center for Policy Analysis, National Center for Public Policy Research, 
Pacific Research Institute, Reason Foundation, Science and Public 
Policy Institute are there to ``provide a multitude of services to the 
cause of climate change skepticism.''
  Well, they are not alone. Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes and her 
colleague Erik Conway from NASA and CalTech--no fools--have examined 
the long history of corporate-financed public relations efforts 
designed to sow confusion and skepticism about scientific research on 
topics like tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, and climate change. 
These are the schemes of the ``Merchants of Doubt,'' the title of their 
book, and also the recent documentary film which, by the way, is 
playing in the Capitol tonight. Naomi Oreskes is actually here.
  Then there is Justin Farrell of Yale University, about whom Senator 
Merkley just spoke. This is his diagram of the ``web of denial'' as a 
complex network of think tanks, foundations, public relation firms, 
trade associations, and other groups that are ``overtly producing and 
promoting skepticism and doubt about scientific consensus on climate 
change.''
  Farrell describes the function of the network as, one, ``the 
production of an alternative contrarian discourse,'' and, two, ``to 
create ideological polarization around climate change.''
  That is right. The polarization that we see in this building and in 
this Chamber on this issue is a product created by this web of 
corporate-funded climate denial front groups. Congressional inaction is 
the sabotage their product has wrought in our democracy.
  Here is how Dr. Farrell describes it: ``Well-funded and well-
organized contrarian campaigns are especially important for spreading 
skepticism or denial where scientific consensus exists--such as in the 
present case of global warming, or in historical contrarian efforts to 
create doubt about the link between smoking and cancer.''
  These researchers and many more help map out an intricate 
interconnected web of denial that encompasses over 100 organizations, 
including trade associations, conservative think tanks, foundations, 
public relations firms, and plain old phony polluter front groups. Each 
of the front groups my colleagues and I will be calling out this week 
appear somewhere in the research of these individuals, and I thank 
them.
  There are also groups at work exposing the web of denial. One group 
is American Bridge 21st Century, founded by David Brock, which has 
launched RealKochFacts.com to ``highlight the truth about the Koch 
agenda and what it means for working families in states around the 
country.'' American Bridge last month reported on the 48 groups that 
signed a letter attacking the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general for 
serving a subpoena on the Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. 
According to RealKochFacts, ``43 of the . . . groups that signed on the 
letter defending climate change denial are Koch linked--and 28 of the 
other organizations are either Koch front groups or the beneficiaries 
of regular Koch funding,'' groups such as the James Madison Institute, 
the John Locke Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange 
Council, which we will talk of tomorrow. The Kochs blow their dog 
whistle and the hounds appear. American Bridge exposed them.
  Then there is ProPublica, a group founded by Paul Steiger, ``an 
independent nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism 
in the public interest.'' Their nonpartisan reporting helped shed light 
on some of the ways that the ``dark money'' flows through the Koch 
brothers network and into politics, providing the elections backstop to 
this web of denial.
  Climate Nexus is an organization ``dedicated to highlighting the 
wide-ranging impacts of climate change and clean energy in the United 
States.'' They recently released an analysis of 20 years of the Wall 
Street Journal's editorial opinion on climate change. They found ``a 
consistent pattern that overwhelmingly ignores the science, champions 
doubt and denial of both the science and effectiveness of action, and 
leaves readers misinformed about the consensus of science and of the 
risks of the threat.'' Among their findings, of 201 Wall Street Journal 
editorials related to climate science or policy dating back to 1997, 
not one explicitly acknowledges that fossil fuels cause climate change; 
and of the 122 columns published since 1997, just 4 accept as fact that 
fossil fuels cause climate change or endorse any policy to reduce 
emissions. Between April 2015 and May 2016, as global heat records were 
falling every month, the Journal published 100 climate-related op-eds, 
columns, and

[[Page S4951]]

editorials, of which 96 failed ``to acknowledge the link between human 
activity and climate change.''
  Their report points out that ``the Wall Street Journal consistently 
highlights voices of those with vested interests in fossil fuels . . . 
presenting only the dismissive side of the climate discussion,'' and 
calls this ``a failure of journalistic responsibility.''
  Into this failure of journalistic responsibility by the Wall Street 
Journal editorial page has stepped in the Partnership for Responsible 
Growth, which is running a 12-part ad series in the Wall Street Journal 
right on the editorial page to bring ``accurate mainstream climate 
science to the readers of this publication's opinion pages.''
  The first one reads: ``Exxon's CEO says fossil fuels are raising 
temperatures and sea levels. Why won't the Wall Street Journal?''
  Their second one: ``Carbon dioxide traps heat on Earth. If we can 
agree on that, we can have a conversation.''
  The third says: ``The earth has warmed. And we did it.''
  The fourth says: ``What goes up doesn't come down. CO2 
emissions stay in the atmosphere for centuries.''
  The fifth says: ``Your assets are at risk. Beware the carbon bubble. 
Climate change poses huge financial risks to investors.''
  ``The free market solution to climate change'' was ad No. 6, and the 
free market solution to climate change is ``a market-driven policy that 
conservatives and liberals can both embrace because it promotes growth, 
creates jobs, and makes U.S. companies more competitive.'' In other 
words, it is a revenue-neutral carbon fee.
  The one after that says: ``The Pentagon sees climate change as a 
serious national security threat.'' And they do. It turns up in the 
Quadrennial Defense Reviews, and it turns up in the speeches of the 
leaders of the different armed services. It turns up in our 
intelligence reports. If the Pentagon sees climate change as a serious 
national security threat, shouldn't you?
  The most recent one says this: ``Like any problem, climate change has 
solutions.''
  These straightforward, broadly accepted statements may be the first 
honest words about climate change on the Wall Street Journal editorial 
page, so thank you to the partnership for getting them there.
  The Union of Concerned Scientists is another group working to expose 
this web of denial. It has as its mission to put ``rigorous, 
independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing 
problems.'' The Union of Concerned Scientists recently signed a letter 
with 30 other leading national scientific organizations telling us in 
no uncertain terms that ``climate change is occurring, and rigorous 
scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by 
human activities are the primary driver.''
  For over a decade, the Union of Concerned Scientists has worked to 
defend science and expose misinformation and manufactured uncertainty. 
They published articles on how ExxonMobil used the Big Tobacco denial 
playbook to promote misinformation and doubt on climate science.
  The Union for Concerned Scientists also recently published 
information about how Peabody coal funneled money into climate denial 
groups from 2014 to 2015. It is the fossil fuel industry that is 
feeding the web of denial.
  Greenpeace does great work to expose the web of denial. Last 
December, Greenpeace UK staff posed as consultants for fossil fuel 
companies. While pretending to work for fossil fuel companies, they 
approached climate skeptic professors. Both of the professors agreed to 
conceal the sources of the funding they were offered and to write 
reports in support of fossil fuel use in developing countries and the 
benefits of carbon dioxide. You wonder why I call them payrolled 
scientists.
  Greenpeace's work also exposed Donors Trust's role as a conduit 
anonymizing financial donations between fossil fuel companies and 
climate-denial organizations and other U.S. fossil fuel funding used to 
hire scientists to testify for hearings, reports, and other public 
communications on climate science. Greenpeace was the group that 
released the documents that showed that one of those hired payroll 
scientists had accepted over $1.2 million from fossil fuel interests, 
including the Charles G. Koch Foundation, but didn't report those 
sources of his funding.
  ExxonSecrets is another Greenpeace project, which visually explains 
the network--the web of organizations, lobbyists, and paid-for 
scientists who are part of this web of denial.
  The Climate Investigations Center, founded in 2014 by Kert Davies, is 
another organization that monitors this web of denial--corporations, 
front groups, trade associations, individuals--that delays or denies 
the implementation of sound legislative solutions to climate change. 
Davies is no stranger to the web of denial. He launched two programs at 
Greenpeace: ExxonSecrets, which I mentioned, and PolluterWatch, which 
calls out organizations and individuals funded by fossil fuel interests 
to sow doubt about the validity of climate science and sabotage 
reasonable climate policies.
  I thank all these investigative groups for their work.
  There are also authors who are picking apart the web of denial. The 
executive director of Climate Nexus is Jeff Nesbit. Jeff is the former 
Director of Legislative and Public Affairs at the National Science 
Foundation and was a communications official at the White House during 
the administration of President George H.W. Bush. He recently published 
an investigative book titled ``Poison Tea'' that examines, as the title 
implies, how Big Oil and Big Tobacco invented the tea party and 
captured the GOP.
  As a consultant for the Koch brothers front group Citizens for a 
Sound Economy, Nesbit was there in the room when Citizens for a Sound 
Economy, to quote him, ``proposed an unholy alliance.'' Here is how he 
describes it:

       Philip Morris money commingled with Koch money to create 
     antitax front groups in a handful of states that would battle 
     any tax that moved. It would make no difference what kind of 
     tax--the front groups could battle cigarette excise taxes in 
     the northeast and refined-oil fees at the coasts. Any tax for 
     any purpose was bad--and these front groups would tackle them 
     all, with Philip Morris and the Kochs behind them.

  Nesbit's book shines a spotlight on how Rich Fink, the former 
president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, together with 
Charles Koch ``forged a partnership and created the framework for 
successful action in the political realm,'' with this web of denial at 
the heart of that framework.
  In her recent book, ``Dark Money,'' Jane Mayer describes in depth the 
system by which fossil fuel interests use their wealth to sabotage the 
American political process. First, she describes, they pay 
intellectuals in universities who come up with ideas friendly to the 
fossil fuel industry. Then they pay think tanks to transform these 
ideas into ``marketable policies.''
  An environmental lawyer, Mayer quotes a 2010 article for the New 
Yorker:

       You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding 
     think tank [which] hires people with pedigrees and academic 
     degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all 
     coincide perfectly with the economy interests of their 
     funders.

  Ms. Mayer describes this system as creating what she called the 
``think tank as disguised political weapon.'' From there, they go on to 
phony grassroots organizations to propagate the message. It is a big 
web, this web of denial.
  Steve Coll is the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of 
Journalism. He wrote the investigative book ``Private Empire: 
ExxonMobil and American Power.'' He reports Lee Raymond, chief 
executive of the company from 1993 to 2005, saying about Exxon, ``I'm 
not a U.S. company, and I don't make decisions based on what's good for 
the U.S.'' Gee, we hadn't noticed.
  Tellingly, Coll describes the influence environment of this web of 
denial and the fossil fuel industry role in it. This is a quote from 
his book:

       This, increasingly, was the underlying structure of 
     Washington policy debates: a kaleidoscope of overlapping and 
     competing influence campaigns, some open, some conducted by 
     front organizations, and some entirely clandestine. 
     Strategists created layers of disguise, subtlety, and 
     subterfuge--corporate-funded ``grassroots'' programs and 
     purpose-built think tanks, as fingerprint-free as possible. 
     In such an opaque and untrustworthy atmosphere, the ultimate 
     advantage lay with any lobbyist whose goal was to manufacture 
     confusion and perpetual controversy. On climate, this 
     happened to be the oil industry's position.


[[Page S4952]]


  ExxonMobil, Coll reports, through its public affairs chief, 
``directed a network of allies and grantees in Washington who created 
havoc in the climate science debate.''
  Which brings us to Inside Climate News's series ``Exxon: The Road Not 
Taken,'' named a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize. Journalists Neela 
Banerjee, John Cushman, David Hasemyer, and Lisa Song compared what the 
fossil fuel giant knew about climate change--including results from its 
own cutting-edge research--with the falsehoods Exxon chose to sell to 
the public, usually through this web of denial. The series has surely 
honored the organization's purpose ``to cover the issues that aren't 
being covered by the mainstream.''
  On the Internet, Time Magazine recognized ``DeSmogBlog,'' which I 
mentioned, as one of the best blogs of 2011, describing it in these 
terms. Time Magazine said this:

       Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-
     global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of 
     doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the anecdote to the 
     obfuscation.

  In addition to its regular posts highlighting egregious examples of 
climate denial, DeSmogBlog also maintains a comprehensive 
disinformation research database to expose this web of denial.
  The scholarship of all these academics, all these organizations, and 
all these authors--the detectives who are exposing the web of denial--
has shined a bright light into its dark corners and eliminated its 
concerted effort to dupe the American public and sabotage climate 
action in America--all to protect the fossil fuel industry that funds 
it. It is sickening, but it is big.
  The denial web is designed to be big and sophisticated enough that 
when you see its many parts, you are fooled into thinking it is not all 
the same beast, but it is--like the mythological Hydra, many heads, 
same beast. Professor Brulle likens what he called the climate 
countermovement to a stage production. Here is how Professor Brulle 
described it:

       Like a play on Broadway, the counter movement has stars in 
     the spotlight--often prominent contrarian scientists or 
     conservative politicians--but behind the stars is an 
     organizational structure of directors, script writers and 
     producers, in the form of conservative foundations. If you 
     want to understand what's driving this movement, you have to 
     look at what's going on behind the scenes.

  The web of denial is what is behind the scenes. The web is so big 
because it has so much to protect. Remember, the International Monetary 
Fund has pegged the ``effective subsidy'' to the fossil fuel industry 
every year, just in the United States, at nearly $700 billion. If you 
don't like that number, you can do some math yourself. Just multiply 
the millions of tons of industry carbon emissions by the government's 
own social cost of carbon. You still get to a huge subsidy.
  The web is complex. It is organized into multiple levels. First, it 
cooks up polluter-friendly nonsense among academics that it funds in 
hundreds of universities. For its money, the web gets a little 
scholarly imprimatur to the propaganda. Then off that product goes to 
the think tanks that are the ``disguised political weapon[s],'' 
described by ``Dark Money'' author Jane Mayer, to be turned into 
policy. Then the AstroTurf organizations get cranked up to retail that 
polluter-friendly policy.
  Let me wrap up with this observation. One thing needs to be 
absolutely clear about this web of denial. Truth is not their object. 
Truth is actually their adversary. The web has to mislead to be 
effective. It has to do what a Koch brothers operative described as the 
goal when this whole web was being developed. Here is what the Koch 
operative said:

       It would be necessary [to] use ambiguous and misleading 
     names, obscure the true agenda, and conceal the means of 
     control.

  Ambiguous and misleading names, obscure the true agenda, and conceal 
the means of control that lead back to the fossil fuel industry. 
Welcome to the web of denial. Thank you to those who are working to 
expose it. It is a filthy thing in our democracy.
  I yield the floor.

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