Climate Change

The Koch Brothers Debate: Democracy Doesn’t Belong In The Shadows

4.25.2014 · Tom Steyer

Climate change is the challenge of our generation.

For decades I was fortunate to have a successful career in the business world but, as I learned more and more about climate change and the science became clear, I came to realize that I could no longer in good conscience remain in a business that by definition was invested in every sector of the economy, including the energy sector, while knowing the detrimental impact of fossil fuels on the health, safety and security of our children. In a sense, this growing understanding of the science and the perils of climate change led to my personal version of a “Paul on the road to Damascus” moment.

At the end of 2012, I stepped down from my business to dedicate myself full-time to combating the very real impacts of climate change. That’s why I founded NextGen Climate—to take on the issue of global climate change by directly challenging those who deny basic science or put their own financial interests ahead of what is best for our kids.

Many Americans—myself included—think the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited outside money into electoral politics was an historically bad decision. There is no question in my mind that allowing those with unequal financial resources to advance their economic self-interest through our political system is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

However, these are the rules that we’ve been given. And because I believe in the democratic process, I’ve committed myself to working within the current system to level the playing field by weighing in on the side of our nation’s public interest.

What we are planning to spend is only a small drop in the big oil bucket compared to what the other side is spending, but we have science and fact on our side. We are the David taking on not just Goliath but many Goliaths in this fight on behalf of the next generation. Make no mistake: there is a significant difference between what we are doing and what the other side—led by fossil fuel participants like the Koch brothers—is doing.

We are using our resources to promote an interest that we believe will help our children, while they appear to be promoting an agenda that will benefit their economic self-interest.

We deal in science, while they are involved in efforts to attack science.

We are open and transparent in our efforts, while they remain in the shadows.

Charles Koch has publicly bemoaned the oppression of “free and open debate,” and this might be the one point on which we agree. Democracy isn’t served by underhanded attacks and the voice of the American people shouldn’t be drowned out by anonymous voices with expensive megaphones.

Which is why today I am issuing a formal invitation to Charles and David Koch to come out of the shadows and join me in exactly what they’ve requested: a free and open debate.

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