News Alert: Billionaire donor‚s climate group plans to punish GOP in 2016

By Benjy Sarlin

NextGen Climate, the environmental super PAC founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, announced plans on Monday to punish Republican presidential candidates who reject the scientific consensus on climate change.

The group spent over $70 million in the 2014 midterms attacking Republican candidates in a number of high-profile Senate races, but were unable to stem the tide in what was ultimately a strong GOP year. On a call with reporters on Monday, NGC chief strategist Chris Lehane declined to provide a specific dollar pledge for the 2016 race, but said that Steyer and his allies would _spend what it takes_ to make climate a damaging campaign issue for Republicans.

Much of the effort will center on linking Republican attacks on climate science, where the overwhelming consensus points towards man-made emissions causing dangerous changes in the environment, to political spending by conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers have pledged to raise upwards of $889 million in the 2016 election cycle, rivaling spending by the two major parties in 2012.

_It is a party that is in essence acquired and purchased by the Koch brothers,_ Lehane said.

A spokeswoman for Koch Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Environmental group Greenpeace has accused the Koch network of spending tens of millions of dollars on organizations that work to undermine mainstream climate science. Koch Industries has said it promotes _sound science._

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