Koch industries has made the Koch brothers, David and Charles, the fourth richest people in the world with a combined net worth of $44 billion dollars according to Forbes magazine. As explained in part 1 of this series, Charles is the brother most involved with the businesses and he is CEO of Koch Industries. David Koch is Vice President of the companies. It is said that the two joke about their business as being “the biggest company you never heard of”, well at least until people found out they were bankrolling the Tea Party. It is now the second largest private company in the United States. They generate approximately $100 billion in sales a year and have industries ranging from oil and gas, refining and chemicals, fertilizer, forestry, consumer products, polymers and fibers and last but not least, ranching. Every single one of these industries is a polluter which explains why the Koch brothers would back climate change denier think tanks, back them? They probably own them. They have presence in 45 states and 60 countries, world wide. I will review each company and provide some background into their operation and issues they might have had. No doubt there has to be some environmental violations based on the products they supply.
Flint Hill Resources LP: Flint hills is in Wichita, Kansas, it was originally called Koch Petroleum Group. It is a refining and chemical company that has a combined crude oil capacity of 800,000 barrels of oil a day. It sells products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol, polymers, intermediate chemicals, base oils and asphalt. Flint has chemical plants in Illinois, Texas, and Michigan. The firm is also a major manufacturer of asphalt used for paving and roofing applications. It operates 13 asphalt terminals located in six states including Alaska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota. The firm manages the purchasing of domestic crude oil from Texas and Colorado offices, has four ethanol plants across Iowa, operates three refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and has a refinery terminal in Alaska. The Minnesota refinery can process 320,000 barrels of crude a day, most of which comes from Alberta, Canada and handles one quarter of all Canadian oil sands crude entering the United States. It also operates fuel terminals in Wisconsin (4 locations), Texas (6), and one each in Iowa. and Minnesota. Are you thinking what I am thinking right about now? If you are not, you should be.
In March 1999, Koch Petroleum Group acknowledged that it had negligently dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of aviation fuel into wetlands from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnisota, and that it had illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi River. Koch Petroleum paid a $6 million fine and $2 million in remediation costs, and was ordered to serve three years of probation.
In April 2001, the company reached a $20 million settlement in exchange for admitting to covering up environmental violations at its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In June 2003, the US Commerce Department fined Flint Hill Resources a $200,000 civil penalty. The fine settled charges that the company exported crude petroleum from the US to Canada without proper US government authorization. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said from July 1997 to March 1999, Koch Petroleum (later called Flint Hill Resources) committed 40 violations of Export Administration Regulations.
In 2005, Koch’s Flint Hills Resources refinery was recognized by the EPA’s Clean Air Awards program for reducing air emissions by 50 percent while expanding operations. The EPA has worked with Flint Hills Resources to develop “strategies for curtailing so-called ‘upset’ emissions, in what agency and company sources say could lead to guidance to minimize such emissions from petroleum refineries and other industrial facilities.” The EPA described the process as a “model for other companies.” And this is the EPA they want to get rid of, funny that.
In 2006, Flint Hill Resources was fined nearly $16,000 by the EPA for 10 separate violations of the Clean Air Act at its Alaska oil refinery facilities, and required to spend another $60,000 on safety equipment needed to help prevent future violations. So company #1 is not a stand up company worried about our environment. I also find it not too amusing that they are fined for these violations with not much thought about how their negligence may affect the peoples in these areas long-term. Geogia Pacific is a great example of that lack of responsibility. There are subsidiaries under this company but it would take a report to review all of them which is why I am posting the document from Americans for Progress, they go into a great deal of detail.
Koch Supply and Trading, LP : Their home page reads like this:
Every day, critical business outcomes depend on seamless supply and trading around the globe. Ideally, this distribution should appear to happen naturally, but in reality a catalyst is required.
That is why Koch Supply & Trading companies offer an international team of experts skilled in a disciplined, research-based approach of identifying and executing profitable trade opportunities while also managing potential risk.
Basically, the company provides Risk Management in crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas and other commodities. It is a subsidiary of Koch Industries and offers a mix of services. They have offices all over the world and their website indicates products traded include crude oil, refined products and derivatives, natural gas liquids, natural gas, power, emissions, metals and financials including foreign currency, interest rates and exchange traded commodities and freight. This would be a good reason why they want the CTFC shut down too. ANY agency that can control them, they want shut down, in fact, they want most government agencies shut down. If they ever get their puppet in the White House, we are all doomed.
Koch Pipeline Company, LP: Koch Pipeline Company LP owns and operates 4,000 miles of pipeline used to transport oil, natural gas liquids and chemicals. Its pipelines are located across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oaklahom, Louisiana and Alberta Canada. They have offices in Wichita, St Paul and Corpus Christi
In 1946 Wood River Oil Co. (a precursor company to Koch Industries) purchased Rock Island Oil and Refining Co. As a part of the transaction, it acquired a crude-oil pipeline in Oklahoma. As a result of construction and investments, Wood River acquired other pipelines in the U.S. and Canada. “In the ensuing years,” according to Koch Pipeline’s website, “the company bought, sold and built pipeline systems transporting crude oil and refined products, as well as natural gas, natural gas liquids and anhydrous ammonia for fertilizer. Koch Pipeline and its affiliates currently maintain a 4,000-mile network of pipelines. Again their interest in the XL pipeline is probably purely selfish.
Georgia Pacific: This is where it gets nasty, but first let me give you some background on the business. Georgia Pacific is a paper and pulp company that produces “Brawny” paper towels, “Angel Soft” toilet paper, “Mardi Gras” napkins and towels, “Quilted Northern” toilet paper and paper towels, “Dixie” paper plates, bowls, napkins and cups, “Sparkle” paper towels, and “Vanity Fair” paper napkins, bowls, plates and tablecloths. The Atlanta-based company has operations in 27 states.
Georgia Pacific became a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries in 2005 after the two brothers paid $21 billion to take over the company and take it private. They have facilities in 27 states, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, California, Oregon, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The story about Georgia Pacific gets nasty in Arkansas. The Georgia Pacific plywood-stud mill in Crosset Arkansas has come under fire by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network for alleged health impacts Crossett residents are experiencing as a result of being exposed to toxic chemicals released into the air by the mill. LEAN Technical Advisor, Wilma Subra, presented the human health impacts associated with the pollution from the Georgia-Pacific Papermill in Crossett, Arkansas to the adjacent community. She studied and visited several areas where the toxic air quality and steam from polluted waterways can be clearly seen. Basically it appears that the Georgia Pacific Facility’s Waste Water Treatment Impoundments, Aeration Ponds and Waste Water Transfer Conduits are making people in surrounding areas sick. No big surprise there. From her report:
Hydrogen Sulfide concentrations in the air in Crossett, in the areas surrounding the Georgia Pacific facility and waste water impoundments were measured using a Jerome Hydrogen Sulfide monitor between March 6 and 9, 2012..
Concentrations of Hydrogen Sulfide were detected in the air downwind of the Georgia Pacific facility and downwind of the waste water impoundments, aeration pounds and waste water transfer conduits in concentrations ranging from 1 to 25 parts per billion. Plumes of Hydrogen Sulfide were plotted based on the monitoring data and demonstrated different areas of the surrounding communities and businesses being impacted based on prevailing wind directions.
According to the 2-year study, residents say they have experienced health impacts associated with “odor events” originating from the Georgia Pacific facility. Residents complained of headaches, eye irritation, nose irritation, dizziness, throat irritation and muscle weakness. Some of the suspected chemical orders and contamination in the waterways are: formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfate, phenol, chlorine, toluene, epichlorohydrin, dioxide and dioxide like compounds and chlorine dioxide. The list of chemicals being released is enough to make anyone ill. It would also not surprise anyone to know that Koch Industries has been trying to get the U.S. government to not list formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. To date nothing has been done regarding the report, but people in the area either have already died or are seriously ill with lung problems and a myriad of other illnesses. Of course I cannot say definitively that Georgia Pacific is responsible but experience from polluters like them has proven they will fight their responsibility for the casualties of their business forever, if they can. John Mansville is a good example of which I have personal experience. By the time they were deemed responsible for asbestos, my father was already dying of asbestos poisoning. By the time the suit was settled, they had filed for bankruptcy in order to pay less on claims. Georgia Pacific would be no different. Beatrice Corp fought for years while people in their line of fire were dying. We see this carelessness all the time today all over the world. And their denials of climate change are a direct result of their desire to make more and more money. How much money is enough? Will there ever be a cap? The answer right now is not in our lifetime. But think about all the states Georgia Pacific operates in, and ask yourself if you could be one of those casualties. If yes, the answer should scare you.
Koch Chemical Technology Group, LLC: Now this is an ironic one, they sell pollution-control equipment. I know, I know, stop laughing, I know I was laughing at the irony. Their affiliates include, Koch Glitsch, LP, Koch Membrane Systems Inc, Koch Heat Transfer Company, LP, John Zink Company, LLC, Optimized Process Designs, Inc and Koch Knight LLC. So really they have the best of both worlds, they pollute with their other companies and sell pollution control equipment with another. Well, at least we now know that either they do believe in pollution or do not but think others do and they can make a buck off of that knowledge.
Koch Mineral Service, LLC: Koch Minerals and its affiliates are among the largest dry-bulk commodity handlers. It markets or trades 40 million tons of product a year. They also have direct or indirect subsidiaries that collectively are one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of nitrogen fertilizer. These companies include, Koch Nitrogen Company LLC, Koch Nitrogen International and Koch Fertilizer, Canda. So of course I have to say it, they are the shitty group of the conglomerate. A little humor when dealing with these people is sorely needed.
Invista BV: This was formerly DuPont Textiles and Interiors and is an independently managed, but wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Invista is a producer of polyster polymers and fibers. The material goes into clothing, carpets, luggage, plastic bottles and car interiors. Products include; Lycra fiber, Stainmaster carpet, Antron carpet fiber and Coolmax fabric. My suggestions here would be to buy Wilson-Art floors, lose weight so you don’t need spandex or lycra, do not wear polyester, stop drinking drinks out of plastic bottles, make your own luggage, buy hemp clothing and find a car dealer who does not have interiors provided by Invista BV. See how they have quite a bit of the market sewed up that we have to choose from? I am sure you could think of more than I have just mentioned.
Matador Cattle Company: This is a key division of Koch Agriculture Company and an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. The company operates ranches that together comprise425,000 managed acres, of which 240,000 are deeded. All of those acres support 15,000 cattle. They are production cattle and there are three ranches in and are located in Montana, Texas and Kansas. Whether that production is in beef or milk, there is another area in which they could and most likely sometimes do harm. In any event that milk that you just drank out of the carton that was spoiled? Well, it probably came from the Kochs. What else am I to think after wallowing in their mire for the past few days? All kidding aside, I can see where Monsanto just might fill some of their needs.
As you can see, the Koch family touches each and every American every day. It would be nice to boycott their products but the list is long and undistinguished and would be difficult for the average American to remember, if they participated at all. The only way to expose these guys is for people to read and learn. Find out how they can harm you and if you could be directly in their line of fire, take action. We have a Georgia Pacific plant not far from us on the river/delta we all depend on. The delta that the river leads to supplies water for most of our state. That is a concern that I would want to follow up on, as well as others in California whose water comes from that Delta. That rich soil has produced many ranches in the area and they grow food for the entire country, so you should be worried no matter where you live.
Up next, we get to the meat of the Koch empire, Bankrolling the Right Through Various Foundations. This is something I never contemplated when I was writing the series on the religious right but we live and learn every day. I hope this series is helpful and I must thank all the people who went before me and researched this family. They have done a great service and I acknowledge them by providing you with the links I used to write this article.
News article on Georgia Pacific
LEAN Report on areas surrounding the Georgia Pacific plant
Link to PDF from Center for American Progress’ report on Koch Industries in yesterday’s article. If anyone has trouble accessing it, I can try to post it in the comments section. This report is very detailed.
My thanks also to Wikipedia.