North Carolina CBS Bureau Chief Demonstrates How To Disclose The Industry Ties Of A Koch Front Group

The bureau chief of CBS' Raleigh affiliate accurately reported the fossil fuel ties of American Energy Alliance, a Koch front group whose industry affiliation is regularly ignored by mainstream media outlets.

In a September 9 article headlined “Renewables critics sound off,” WRAL capitol bureau chief Laura Leslie reported that the American Energy Alliance (AEA) sponsored a roundtable attacking North Carolina's renewable energy policy. Leslie described AEA as “the political lobbying arm” of an organization funded by the Charles and David Koch, explaining that its president, Thomas Pyle, is a former Koch Industries lobbyist. She added that "[m]uch of the money the Koch family has made has been through petrochemical fuels."

Additionally, Leslie detailed the Koch ties of another roundtable participant, a professor from Utah State University's Institute for Political Economy who authored an anti-renewable energy study described by advocates as “misleading.”

Mainstream media often overlook the fossil fuel ties of front groups such as AEA, allowing these groups to attack renewable energy policies without disclosing their financial conflicts of interest.

From the WRAL post

Opponents of renewable energy programs held an hour-long roundtable at the Legislative Building on Wednesday about their concerns.

The event was sponsored by the American Energy Alliance, the political lobbying arm of the Institute for Energy Policy, a conservative think tank funded by Charles and David Koch. The event moderator was Tom Pyle, president of the AEA and the IEP, and a former Koch Industries lobbyist.

Much of the money the Koch family has made has been through petrochemical fuels. According to a Pro-Publica investigation in 2014, the Kochs have used a trade group known as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce to funnel money to a long list of conservative nonprofit groups, many of which defend the fossil fuel industry against public policy initiatives favoring renewables.


Another panelist at the event was Ryan Yonk, an assistant professor at Utah State University's Institute for Political Economy, a free-market think tank that also has strong ties to the Koch brothers. Yonk co-authored a study that says the average household in North Carolina lost $3,800 in disposable income in 2013 because of the cost of the renewable energy standard.

“The folks that get hurt the most are the folks that are very least able to afford it,” Yonk said.

Dustin Chicurel-Bayard with the North Carolina Sierra Club pointed out that the study, which he characterized as “misleading,” has been thoroughly debunked by researchers at the American Wind Energy Association.