The obsolete, but heavily subsidized fossil fuel and nuclear power industry is reaching into state government to roll back the emerging US electrical renaissance. Some of the major agents of this effort are fossil fuel dealers David and Charles Koch. Many bloggers have begun referring to their political operation as “the Kochtopus,” reflecting the many front groups that the Kochs have put at the service of the electrical system’s current oligarchic regime, as well as oligarchs in other industries.
But the term harks back to the great novel The Octopus, by Frank Norris, about the strangle hold the Southern Pacific Railroad held over farmers in the emerging agribusiness system who were too dependent on growing wheat for market at the beginning of the twentieth century. Norris saw the threat of oligarchic control of the US then, just as we are seeing the fossil fuel industry, along with its nuclear powered cousin, fighting to stamp out innovation and citizen control of our electrical system.
On Wednesday, Renewable Energy World posted another excellent piece on the Kochtopus’ effort to halt OH’s innovation in energy efficiency and renewable power. Although the Republican dominated OH Senate passed the FirstEnergy sponsored and Kochtopus backed SB 310, the OH House just postponed its vote on the bill for another week. Green Energy Ohio, a strong advocate for good energy policy and innovation in electricity, is calling on Ohioans to contact House members and let them know that you want Ohio to move forward, not back into the arms of the oligarchs.
And let’s not forget our own Kochtopus tentacles here in WV. Sen. Joe Manchin has a history of promoting the Koch agenda. He recently criticized people who were speaking the truth about the Kochtopus threat to our democracy. The Koch’s have also reached into the Republican caucus in the WV Legislature, particularly the House of Delegates. And Kochtopus sleaze has made its appearance in WV’s recent primary election, thanks to the WV branch of Americans for Propserity (the prosperity of the oligarchs), whose chairman is Wendy McCuskey, wife of Kanawha Republican Delegate John McCuskey.