Koch Brothers

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Please note, this page has been archived since 2011 and will not be updated. 

Charles G Koch and his younger brother David are the owners of the second largest private company in the US, Koch Industries Inc, which in 2010 generated $100 billion in revenue and had 70,000 employees, according to Forbes. Koch companies have hundreds of US facilities in 40 American states and staff in 60 countries, with the company based in Wichita, Kansas. The brothers each own 42 percent of the company's shares.

Charles G. Koch has been the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries Inc since 1967. David H. Koch is executive vice president and board member. Charles and David have a combined fortune of $43 billion and are ranked the joint fifth wealthiest Americans by Forbes.

The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas and Minnesota, and currently own companies involved in pollution control equipment and technologies, minerals, fertilizers, polymers and fibers, commodity trading and services along with forest and consumer products. Some of their products include Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra. The company dates from the 1920s when their father, Fred Koch, founded an oil delivery business in Texas.

Conservative thinktanks

David Koch, together with Richard Fink, a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries, founded Americans for Prosperity (AFP). A Koch spokesperson has denied any direct links to the Tea Party saying that Americans for Prosperity is "an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities". David Koch told New York Magazine "I've never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me". It was alleged by DeSmogBlog that a 2010 video from the Americans for Prosperity gala dinner shows Koch listening to detailed reports of tea parties organised around the country.

Charles Koch co-founded the Cato Institute, a libertarian thinktank, in 1977 and David Koch co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, later called FreedomWorks. David Koch is a member of the board of directors for the Cato Institute and a trustee of the Reason Foundation. Charles Koch is a member of the board of directors at Mercatus Center of George Mason University, run by Richard Fink, another Koch employee.

The family has four main foundations: Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, Koch Cultural Trust, David H. Koch Foundation and Charles G. Koch Foundation. The Kochs have "poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations", according to the New Yorker.

Greenpeace has listed the names of thinkthanks, organisations and institutions that have received funds from Koch Industries. The Mercatus Center, Americans for Prosperity, Institute for Human Studies, Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute received almost $20 million in total. Other beneficiaries listed are the George C. Marshall Institute, Reason Foundation, Fraser Institute and American Enterprise Institute. Many of these institutes have also received funds from ExxonMobil. Twelve US senators have received funds from Koch since 2004, among them is well known climate sceptic James Inhofe, according to Greenpeace.

 

Climate sceptic agenda

The New Yorker suggests that: "Cato scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal." David Koch stated that global warming could be good for the planet, claiming: "A far greater land area will be available to produce food."

Greenpeace has described most of the organizations funded by the Koch's as being part of the 'climate denial machine'. The Kochs donated $24.9 million from 2003 to 2008 to organizations, thinktanks and institutes advocating against legislation related to climate change. For comparison, ExxonMobil donated $8.9 million during the same period. The network of Koch funded organsations involved in opposition campaigns against the Obama administration has been described as the " Kochtopus".

 

Environmental record

Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Koch Industries one of the top ten toxic air polluters in the US.

In two filed lawsuits, the Justice Department claimed that Koch Industries were responsible for more than three hundred oil spills into lakes and rivers. Koch paid a thirty-million-dollar civil fine. According to Source Watch, the department also levelled a 97-count federal indictment against the company for illegal discharge of 91 tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

In 1999, Koch Industries were found "guilty of negligence and malice" in the deaths of two Texas teenagers in an explosion that resulted from a leaky underground butane pipeline."

 

Lobbying

An investigation by the political watchdog, Center for Public Integrity uncovered the extent of the Brothers' political lobbying operation. The CPI found they spent $20m dollars on lobbying in 2008 and a further $20.5m over the next two years.

Koch Industries employs 30 lobbyists in Washington who have sought to change or influence more than 100 pieces of federal legislation.

This has included working to, "dilute or halt tighter federal regulation of several toxic byproducts that could affect its bottom line, including dioxin, asbestos and formaldehyde, all of which have been linked to cancer."

Koch Industries and its subsidiaries have lobbied hard against the Obama Administration's attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The CPI investigation said:

"The firm's lobbying expenditures soared in 2008 as Koch Industries and its subsidiaries … peppered the EPA and members of Congress with objections. Several worked on measures that would strip the EPA of the power to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act."

The Kochs also work with other industry colleagues through groups like the National Environmental Development Association's Clean Air Project to lobby over greenhouse emissions legislation.

 

 

 

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