It’s hardly a surprising sequence of events. The Flint Hills episode is consistent with the Kochs’ mantra of money over all else, and their disregard for environmental safety has been well documented, including by former Koch Industries managers.
Now, Flint Hills has agreed to pay the $80,000 in a settlement over accusations of mishandling hazardous waste. Here’s what happened in this specific incident, as described by Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
After filtering groundwater, Flint Hills disposed of the used filters in an open trash bin at the site. The filters soon “self ignited” inside the bins, according to an EPA complaint, requiring a response from the North Pole Fire Department to extinguish two fires.
Meanwhile the Kochs are spending heavily trying to overtake a Senate seat here, using ads that purport to want what’s best for Alaskans while denying the truth about their own record in the state.
They’ve made it abundantly clear already: they care a hell of a lot more about their bottom dollar than they care about Alaska.
Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States
Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has a good thing going on with the Kochs. As we previously wrote, much to the delight of the Kochs, Abbott actually acted to limit standards for public chemical disclosure even in the wake of the deadly explosion in West, Texas.
And Wayne Slater of Dallas Morning News reported that the move came after massive contributions from the fertilizer industry who stands to benefit from the relaxed chemical rules. Donations that included $75,000 from the Kochs, including $25,000 from Charles Koch’s son, Chase, who heads the fertilizer division of Koch Industries.
The Kochs have proven time and time again that they really don’t care about how people’s safety is affected by the work of their oil conglomerate, so long as they are maximizing profits. In fact, according to Daniel Shulman’s book, Sons of Wichita, a former Koch Industries pipeline manager “testified in a deposition that the company had taken a shockingly cavalier approach to pipeline safety.”
Abbott took heat for limiting chemical disclosure, but he stood strong with special interests and against the safety of his constituents. And for that, it appears the Kochs will continue to reward him. They just dropped another $25,000 into his campaign.
The Kochs have had affection for Greg Abbott for a while. This headline is from last September: When Greg Abbott needs an airplane who does he call? The Koch brothers. It appears their relationship is only growing sweeter.
Oil is the core of the Koch business empire, and the company’s lobbyists and officials have successfully fought to preserve the industry’s tax breaks and credits, and to defeat attempts by Congress to regulate greenhouse gases.
It’s a marriage made in heaven.
The idea of raising the minimum wage makes Rick Scott cringe. The Kochs and Americans for Prosperity want to get rid of the minimum wage altogether. Rick Scott won’t expand Medicaid for over 750,000 Floridians and 40,000 veterans. AFP has fought against Medicaid expansion across the country. Rick Scott won’t accept climate science. The Kochs have long funded climate change denial groups.
So of course Americans for Prosperity is lending their support to Rick Scott. It was love at first sight!
Wayne Slater has the scoop in today’s Dallas Morning News about another effort by the Kochs to use their largesse to advance a self-serving political agenda, this time to the benefit of their fertilizer business in Texas.
After last year’s tragic fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, Texans’ interest in knowing where these dangerous chemicals are stored naturally increased. According to the report, for decades, this information was available to the public on the Department of State Health Services’ website. Yet in the wake of the accident in West, Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has ruled that these records are closed, citing a post-9/11 anti-terrorism state security statute. Abbott contends that concerned Texans can still drive to chemical facilities in their area and inquire in person about what potentially dangerous or explosive chemicals are stored on-site. (Sounds safe, right?)
Why the change in disclosure policy? According to Slater, Abbott’s campaign has received thousands of dollars from chemical and fertilizer companies, including $75,000 from Koch interests in the months following the West explosion. Abbott received $25,000 each from Charles Koch, the Koch Industries’ PAC and from Chase Koch, Charles’ son and the head of Koch Industries’ fertilizer business. A previous DMN report noted that Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia Pacific operates a plant in Sweetwater, one of several dozen chemical plants in the state that stockpiles at least 10,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate or ammonium-related material.
The Koch brothers have previously opposed federal efforts to secure chemical plants from terrorist attacks, yet in Texas, the Kochs are pouring thousands into backing Abbott and his industry-friendly interpretation of state anti-terror regulations.
According to a report Tuesday from the Independent Weekly, Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity is planning to grow its presence in Louisiana. The report notes that AFP’s national president was recently in Louisiana meeting with donors and prospects.
AFP’s state president told the newspaper that AFP seeks to have an “impact on public policy in the state,” but did not specify which policies comprise this “laundry list” of issues. We certainly know what issue isn’t on AFP’s list — protecting Louisianans from sky-high flood insurance premiums. After Congress passed the Biggert-Waters act in 2012, in an effort to ensure the solvency of the National Flood Insurance Program, flood insurance premiums went through the roof for some Louisiana families. When lawmakers attempted to address these impacts, AFP did its utmost to end all federal flood insurance subsidies and succeeded in delaying Congress’ vote on the fix, which ultimately passed in March of this year. In the unfortunate event of another disaster, Louisianians should also be troubled by AFP’s response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. AFP issued multiple legislative alerts urging lawmakers to vote down critical disaster relief and infrastructure preparedness measures.
Check this space for updates as AFP pushes its Koch brothers-approved policy agenda in the Bayou State.
We’ve written before about the tremendous sums of money that the Koch brothers, through Americans for Prosperity, have poured into supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and an extreme right-wing agenda in the state. Now, according to a recent report from Salon — “It’s a hard-rock life” — the Koch brothers and their pro-mining industry cronies are actually crying poor in Wisconsin.
One of Governor Walker’s many Koch-supported policies includes mining legislation, Wisconsin Act 1, which he signed into law last year. The measure, supported by the mining industry, rolled back key environmental protection for the state’s water sources and wetlands, according to Salon. As a result of the law, the development of a massive, open strip mine is being considered in the state’s Northwoods, a project that threatens the state’s fresh water, wildlife, landscape and the Native American tribes that call the iconic region home.
Not ones to miss out on an effort to degrade the environment, Americans for Prosperity circulated pro-mining mailings during a recent local election, lamenting that “Iron County, and the iron mines that drive our economy, is being targeted by wealthy environmental groups from outside of Wisconsin,” according to Salon. Yet in reality, Salon notes that the state’s “pro-mine contributors have outspent mine opponents by more than 600 to 1.”
To continue the Annie metaphor, AFP complaining about “wealthy environmental groups” in Wisconsin is basically like Miss Hannigan getting indignant over orphan abuse.
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