Kochs decline Steyer’s invitation to debate climate change, Keystone XL

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have turned down an invitation from environmentalist and fellow billionaire Tom Steyer to debate climate change and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Melissa Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for the Kochs, told the Wichita, Kansas, Eagle Friday that they “are not experts on climate change.”

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“We do believe there should be free and open debate on the climate issue and it should be based on sound science and intellectual honesty,” Cohlmia said, adding that the debate should take place in the scientific community.

Heather Wong, a spokeswoman for Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action, said the group was glad to see the Kochs say they are not climate change experts, according to the Eagle. The scientific community has concluded that the climate is changing due to human-caused carbon emissions, Wong added.

Steyer first challenged the Kochs to a debate in late April on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” NextGen followed up with a full-page advertisement in the Eagle — the Kochs’ hometown newspaper — Friday.

Steyer has set a goal of donating $100 million in this election cycle through NextGen, an environmentally focused group. He has said the Kochs are on the opposite side from him on issues such as climate change and the Keystone XL pipeline.