Koch-backed governor forbids the Department of Environmental Protection from doing its job

Florida Governor Rick Scott has come up with a fool-proof plan for dealing with climate change: ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

According to officials at the agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, ostensibly in charge of studying and preparing for the impacts of climate change, is reportedly forbidden from using the terms“climate change” and ”global warming.”

The ban went into effect after Scott took office in 2011. Although Scott denies that he was the one to issue the gag order, historically he has refused to acknowledge the reality of man-made climate change even after a group of Florida scientists sat him down and explained it to him.

Former DEP employees claim they were told never to use either of those terms “in any official communications, emails or reports,” because “we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact.”

This rationale sounds awfully familiar. In order to protect their petrochemical empire, the Koch brothers have funneled millions of dollars to climate denial front groups and launched massive lobbying efforts against climate change legislation.

Koch Industries made large contributions to Scott’s re-election campaign, and the Kochs’ primary political arm, Americans For Prosperity, has put more than 40 paid staffers on the ground in the Sunshine State.

It’s clear that Scott’s climate change denial is detrimental to the people and the landscape of Florida. But at least he’s keeping his investors happy.

New Walker Appointee Teamed Up With AFP To Support Solar Energy Cost Hikes

This week, Bloomberg Politics dubbed Scott Walker the “King of Kochworld.” The article chronicled his deep and long-established ties to the Koch brothers’ network and their support for the ultra-conservative makeover he’s given the state of Wisconsin. It’s a love affair that could pay big dividends for Walker, as he looks to become the beneficiary of a large chunk of the eye-popping $889 million they’ve promised to spend this cycle.

Well, Walker is living up to his regal title. This week, his administration announced a number positional of shakeups, including the appointment of a gentleman named Scott Neitzel to run Wisconsin’s Department of Administration. According to the Wisconsin DOA website, their ultimate goal is to “offer Wisconsin residents the most efficient, highest-quality state government services possible.”

But in Neitzel’s previous role, as an executive at Madison Gas and Electric, he was hardly fighting for his new constituents. Instead, Madison Gas and Electric was teaming up with Americans For Prosperity, fighting to protect profits for Big Oil and petrochemical companies like Koch Industries at the expense of solar energy users. The coalition was pushing for legislation to hike fees and increase regulations on customers who produced their own solar power.

From personnel moves to policy pushes, Scott Walker’s motives are clear — the only constituents he’s looking out for are the ones he reigns over in Kochworld.

What Grinches Would Cause an End to Flights to the North Pole?

Frontier Airlines is ending its season flights to Fairbanks, and it’s all the Koch brothers’ fault. Actually though.
According to KTUU, “A spokeswoman for Fairbanks International Airport says the airline cited the closure of the Flint Hills Resources refinery in North Pole and higher fuel costs as a major factor in the decision. Flint Hills ended production in May.”
Flint Hills, a Koch Industries subsidiary, came under fire after closing their North Pole refinery in February, killing 80 jobs and facing accusations of violating environmental standards. And Alaska continues to pay the price for the Koch brothers’ self-interested decision to close the refinery — from the toxic groundwater they left behind, to increased costs on road construction. Frontier flights to Fairbanks are the latest victim.
The Koch brothers continue to bankroll ads attacking Dan Sullivan’s opponent in their attempt to buy him a Senate seat. What he needs is an airplane seat so back home to Ohio after he loses the election — hope he wasn’t planning on flying Frontier!

Koch Subsidiary In AK Pays $80k To Settle Mishandled Hazardous Waste Accusations

A Koch Industries subsidiary, Flint Hills, has already made some unsavory headlines in Alaska. That’s because they decided in February to close their refinery in North Pole, AK — killing over 80 jobs — rather than meet environmental standards and pay for groundwater cleanup.

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.

REPORT: Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

It’s no secret that the billionaire Koch brothers’ top priority is continuing to grow their massive fortune, no matter what it takes. Their oil conglomerate, Koch Industries, is the second largest privately held corporation in America, and states across the country are feeling the impacts of their activities. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries own facilities in 35 states across the country, including battleground states like Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and North Carolina — states where the Republican candidates are closely tied to the Koch brothers. These states have been subject to job loss, significant environmental damage, or both, at the hands of the Kochs’ business empire.

This report provides a breakdown of the impact Koch Industries has had on key states. The Kochs’ extreme, self-serving agenda is bad for working families. And that reality is starkly embodied not only by their political persuasions, but by their business endeavors.

Read the full report here

Legacy of Loss: Koch Industries’ Layoffs and Environmental Harm in Battleground States

Beauprez stumps for the Koch brothers in Denver

With their billions coming from the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers’ opposition to environmental regulations is both predictable and well-documented. Yesterday, Americans for Prosperity Colorado, the Kochs’ political arm in the state, held a rally in Denver opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed power plant emissions regulations that protect children and families from health problems like asthma.

AFP Colorado was joined at the rally by former Congressman and candidate for governor, Bob Beauprez. Singing from the Koch song sheet, Beauprez criticized these common sense protections for families while lauding companies like Koch industries. Exactly what AFP and the Kochs — whose company is ranked 14th in the country in air pollution — want to hear.

The Koch brothers and AFP are aiming to elevate Beauprez, in service of their mission to push Colorado to the far right. For his part, Beauprez’s performance yesterday illustrates his ardent support for the extreme, self-serving Koch agenda.

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.

The Kochs Engage In Self-Parody

They say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Well the Koch brothers live in a glass mansion and they’re launching boulders.
Get a load of this: the Koch brothers are attacking League of Conservation Voters, claiming they’re a “partisan activist group that does not disclose its donors.” Seriously. Yes, those Kochs; the ones who plan to spend $500 million to buy midterm elections for Republicans through their various dark money political entities. 
It’s not surprising that the Koch brothers are especially irritable when people hold their favorite son, Scott Brown, accountable. Everyone is overly protective of their own. But this line of attack is beyond parody.
The Kochs go on to assail LCV’s ad for representing them as self-interested, out-of-state oil billionaires who have fought to protect oil tax breaks. But if the shoe fits…This comes from the Center for Public Integrity:

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.

The Kochs can try their hardest to present themselves as ideologically pure libertarians. But the facts speak for themselves. At every turn, they seek to protect their massive oil profits to the detriment of our environment and working families.

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!

Kochs pour thousands into protecting fertilizer interests in Texas

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.

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation