US climate skeptic Soon funded by oil, coal firms
* Funding came from Koch Foundation, Southern, Exxon, API
* Private science funding gets close look amid budget cuts
* Soon says never motivated by financial reward
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) - Willie Soon, a U.S. climate change skeptic who has also discounted the health risks of mercury emissions from coal, has received more than $1 million in funding in recent years from large energy companies and an oil industry group, according to Greenpeace.
Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has also gotten funding from scientific sources including NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But starting early in the last decade, Soon began receiving more funding from the energy companies, Greenpeace reported.
Last year, the foundation of Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of privately held Koch Industries, gave Soon $65,000 to study how variations in the Sun are related to climate change.
Koch is co-owned by David Koch, founder of Americans for Prosperity, a group aligned with the Tea Party movement, which opposes new air pollution regulations.
Beginning in 2002, Soon's funding mostly came from oil companies, including Southern Co (SO.N: Quote), one of the largest coal burners in the United States, and the American Petroleum Institute, according to documents uncovered in a Freedom of Information Act request by Greenpeace and seen by Reuters. Continued...