"The combination of foundation-funded front groups, big lobbying budgets, political action campaign donations, and direct campaign contributions makes Koch Industries and the Koch brothers among the most formidable obstacles to advancing clean energy and climate policy in the US," Greenpeace reported in March. Read the March 30, 2010 Mancester Guardian article by John Vidal: "US oil company donated millions to climate sceptic groups, says Greenpeace." However, that's not where Koch Industries' influence leaves off. It turns out the Koch brothers have been the major funders of right wing think tanks including the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation and of the Tea Party movement. An article in the August New Yorker reveals that the Tea Party groups are funded by Fred and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, the second largest private company in the U.S., through their nonprofit organization Americans for Prosperity. The combined wealth of Fred and David Koch is third highest in the U.S. after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. View Amy Goodman's recent interview of Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for American Integrity on the Koch's influence. The Koch's efforts show success in the views of the new Republicans in the Congress. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that half of the incoming GOP freshman class not only opposes climate change legislation, but denies that manmade global warming even exists.
High Carbon Fossil Fuel for Refinery in Minnesota
It just so happens that Koch Industries, headquartered in Wichita Kansas, has its largest refinery in Rosemount, MN. It is the 14th largest refinery in the United States and gets its oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. This is not the light crude oil that we think of, but a very thick mixture of oil, sand, water, and clay that is solid at normal temperatures. Two tonnes of this material must be extracted for every one barrel of oil produced. It requires as many as 1000 cubic meters of gas to convert a barrel of the substance to thick crude that can be piped to a refinery.
Destruction of the Boreal Forest in Alberta
This process destroys the environment and ecosystems in Alberta, Canada, leaving gaping open pit mines 75 meters deep scarring the landscape. The boreal forest ecosystem stores more carbon in its peatlands, soil, and trees than any other ecosystem in the world, including the tropical rainforests. Tar sands extraction in Northern Alberta is destroying previously untouched boreal forest which will eventually be equivalent to the size of the entire state of Florida. The environmental destruction is immense and releases huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Refining the thick crude oil produced pollutes both air and water. A recent report from the University of Toronto's Munk Centre says the massive refinery expansions needed to process tar sands crude, and the new pipeline networks for transporting the fuel, amount to a “pollution delivery system” connecting Alberta to the Great Lakes region of Canada and the U.S. The various projects, when taken together, threaten to “wipe out many of the pollution control gains” achieved around the lakes since the 1970s. It will lead to "an exponential increase in pollution, discharges into waterways including the Great Lakes, destruction of wetlands, toxic air emissions, acid rain, and huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Koch Corporate Interest Drives Huge Anti-Obama and Anti-Regulation Efforts
Rob Stein, who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. . . They are out to destroy progressivism.” Naomi Oreskes, coauthor of The Merchant of Doubt told the New Yorker that the Kochs, as the heads of “a company with refineries and pipelines,” have “a lot at stake.” A carbon cap and trade system would make tar sand oil less profitable. If we reduce our use of fossil fuels, their wealth will decline so "it's not surprising that they’re fighting tooth and nail.” For a detailed history of the Koch brothers half century of involvement in attempting to derail progressive candidates and policy, see Jane Mayer's "Covert Operations" in the August 29th New Yorker.