The Koch brothers, big oil, and Texas utilities are already shaping Trump’s environmental agenda
The Fueling Freedom Project is the climate-denying voice at the Trump transition table.
By Samantha Page


“The early sign is that Trump ran as a climate denier and is starting to surround himself with climate deniers, and that’s just the wrong direction to go,” said Shannon Fisk, managing attorney for the coal program at Earthjustice.

Despite the fact that, as Fisk told ThinkProgress, “there are many Republicans out there who do not deny the climate science, who are on board with realizing the economic promise of clean energy,” Trump’s budding administration seems tightly linked to a Texas-based fossil fuel advocacy group and it’s parent organization, the far-right Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The chair of TPPF’s Fueling Freedom Project, Doug Domenech, has already been tapped by the incoming administration as head of the Interior Department transition team, and a senior fellow, Kathleen Hartnett White, is a rumored candidate for head of the EPA.

Fueling Freedom’s mission is explicitly anti-environmental. The project’s goals include explaining “the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels” and ending the EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide.

A leaked 2010 list of donors to the the Texas Public Policy Foundation, reported by the Texas Observer, includes the tobacco industry, private prison corporations, and wealthy families who made their fortunes in fossil fuels. The most notable of these are, of course, Charles and David Koch, whose various organizations gave more than $220,000 to TPPF in 2010. The group also received funding that year directly from oil and gas companies, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips, as well as local utility companies.

More recently, the Conservative Transparency Project estimated that the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, two well-known dark money donors, provide more than half of the group’s funding. In 2014 alone, Donors Trust gave more than half a million dollars to the 50-person organization. Donors Capital Fund gave another $226,000, according to analysis of data from TPPF’s nonprofit filings.

Various Koch family foundations, Exxon Mobil, and other conservative donors have also been big supporters of the organization. TPPF is also tied to the likes of other familiar names in the Koch policy network, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (which funneled another $89,400 to the group in 2014).