Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Koch Industries: Some interesting connections

Minnesotan's always like to know who's digging in our collective backyards. I guess that's just the way we are up here.

We call it Minnesota Nice.

We already know that Koch Industries was co founded by Anna Nicole Smith's former husband. I'm sure that revelation curled some toes in conservative Central Minnesota.

It seem also that a high profile GOP staffer, who now is employed by Koch Industries, may have assisted former Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in his illegal lobby dealings. Whether they knowingly or unknowingly assisted is at question now, per the story cited above.

It's pretty clear where the Koch family charitable interests go as well.

David and Charles Koch, sons of the ultraconservative founder of Koch Industries, Fred Koch, direct the three Koch family foundations: the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation.

Following in the footsteps of their father, a member of the John Birch Society, the Kochs clearly have a conservative bent. Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute, and David Koch co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) [now FreedomWorks], where he serves as chairman of the board of directors. David also serves on the board of the Cato Institute. The Koch foundations make substantial annual contributions to these organizations (more than $12 million to each between 1985 and 2002) as well as to other influential conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, media organizations, academic institutes and legal organizations, thus participating in every level of the policy process.

Their total conservative policy giving exceeded $20 million between 1999 and 2001.

Curtis Moore argues that "Koch money funds industry-friendly messages that fill our airwaves and editorial pages, and influences outcomes in the halls of Congress and courtrooms across the country." CSE produces numerous policy papers that reach every congressional office as well as hundreds of newsletters and op-ed pieces. Representatives of the organization may be seen on a number of radio and television shows. Cato's influence also extends to policymakers and the public.

In touting limited government and free markets, these organizations doubt the dangers of various chemicals, environmental pollutants and global warming, as well as challenge research efforts documenting these hazards. One CSE paper argued that "environmental conservation requires a commonsense approach that limits the scope of government."

In writing these papers and making these appearances, individuals associated with these organizations often conveniently decline to acknowledge the substantial funding they receive from Koch and other corporations from the oil, coal, auto and other industries. By withholding such information, they are able to front as unbiased the public-minded associations promoting rigorous scientific research and economic autonomy, when, in fact, the individuals are mere mouthpieces for industries like that of the Koch brothers.

These organizations influence not only public opinion and policy but also judicial outlook. For example, in 1999 CSE subsidized the creation of amici
briefs providing reasons to proclaim the Clear Air Act unconstitutional. CSE received $600,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation that year. The foundation also provided substantial funding to the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), which holds seminars for federal judges at its ranch near Big Sky, Montana. Many influential judges attend these seminars, including those who heard arguments made by legal representatives receiving funding from CSE. It makes sense that the Kochs would fund such anti-environment organizations, given their seedy past of environmental violations and lawsuits.

Most significantly, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Koch Industries with
97 counts of defying federal hazardous waste and clean air-acts when it
knowingly emitted benzene fumes and then lied about its actions when questioned.

In 2001, Koch Industries agreed to a $20 million settlement, a drastically smaller sum than it would have paid if convicted.

I suggest going to the main link to view the sources used in this piece as well.

This is the company that wants a pipeline built in rural Central Minnesota.

More research pending!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As property owners sharing the suffering and hardships created by the MinnCan pipeline project, we urgently ask that you assist everyone in harms way by actively supporting the “Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act.” MinnCan's crude oil pipeline severely impacts the lives of over 1,000 property owners in Minnesota, by taking their land and offering to pay pennies on the dollar for their property loss. The MinnCan pipeline will bring more than 165,000 barrels of oil per day across these properties, and create a risk of oil spills in our rich agricultural lands. Such a spill happened recently in Little Falls, MN where a different Koch pipeline ruptured spilling more than 134,000 gallons and permanently contaminated the land.

The “Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act” is based directly off an existing statute informally called the “Buy the Farm Act” (Minn.Stat 216E.12). “Buy the Farm” gives property owners the option to require proposers of high-voltage transmission lines to purchase their entire property rather than just an easement. The new law would simply extend this option to land owners that are affected by large crude oil pipelines.

We believe that this is a fair and reasonable option that enhances the rights of property owners who will be negatively impacted on a permanent basis because they were chosen to "Host" the pipeline's route. It will also become a viable tool in every property owner’s toolbox for constructing a fair settlement with the proposer.

This statute is directly inline with the overwhelmingly public support of eminent domain limits. While the recent eminent domain legislation unfortunately did not affect these types of utility takings, the above bill will bring some power back to Minnesota landowners who are impacted by utility development.

Please share this letter with others you know that are being affected by the proposed MinnCan pipeline route. We strongly urge all of those affected or support the property owners in harm's way, to call, email, or write their Representatives (To find out who represents you go to, asking them to bring the " Buy the Farm – Pipeline Act" to the floor. There is power in numbers and the more interest the Representatives receive, the more likely this bill will be heard.

Time is critical and these interests need to be expressed, NOW...They all need to be sent as soon as possible. Thank you for your help in spreading the word and voicing your support!

Proposed Bill:
Eminent Domain amendment for Pipeline Facilities

Adapted from MinnStat 216E.12, 2006
Proposed Language
Contiguous land. When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a crude oil pipeline that requires a certificate of need, by eminent domain proceedings, the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner, shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner or vendee wholly owns or has contracted to own in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. The owner or, when applicable, the contract vendee shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility's business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner's election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a crude oil pipeline which requires a Certificate of Need shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.