“KOCHMANIA”…aka…An Evil Environmental Nightmare! (By Jay H Berman)

 

By, Jay H. Berman – Feature Columnist

Creator/Publisher ofronrambles.com – Ron Tenin,

On twitter @rpt62960

 

Are all great financial empires necessarily citadels of evil incarnate? No. However, it isn’t uncommon amongst many critics to declare as much. They point to corporate malfeasance, cronyism & hubris. Examination of the Koch Brothers reveals why enterprises such as theirs are viewed in an extremely negative light.

Unfortunately, irresponsible & harmful activities are pervasive, & therefore it’s nearly impossible to speak of “Koch-World” in complimentary terms. This international conglomerate has a record pursuant to policies & practices best defined as horridness, or [by many], whichever favorite expletive of the moment. Why? Well, history answers that question; let’s look at some facts:

The Koch Petroleum Group consists of corporate environmental villains.

It illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi River in 1999. They acknowledged further negligence, having dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of aviation fuel into wetlands from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota. The $6 million fine & $2 million in remediation costs was a mere pittance for the Koch’s, but they were ordered to serve three years of probation. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry & Security found from 1997 to 1999, Koch Petroleum was guilty of 40 violations of Export Administration Regulations!

A Texas jury found that negligence led to the rupture of a Koch pipeline, & in 1999 awarded the victims’ families $296 million – the largest compensatory damages judgment in a wrongful death case against a corporation in U.S. history at that time.

The new millennium ushered in an era of more Koch wrong-doings.

In 2000, Koch paid the largest civil fine ever imposed under any federal environmental law for illegal discharge of crude oil and petroleum products. 300 reported oil spills had taken place across six states. The company agreed to pay a $30 million civil penalty, spend $5 million for environmental projects, & improve its leak-prevention programs.

A 97-count indictment against Koch Industries and its individual employees was returned by a federal grand jury in 2001 for excess emissions of 85 metric tons of benzene, a well-known carcinogen. They were slapped with a criminal fine of $10 million& a $10 million fine to clean up the environment.

But no amount of judicial or regulatory intervention seems to deter the Koch’s from engaging in illegalities!

At its Corpus Christi, Texas refinery environmental violations were discovered; they admitted to a cover-up resulting in a $20 million settlement in 2001. Then, in 2003, the US Commerce Department fined Flint Hill Resources, [another Koch subsidiary] a $200,000 civil penalty in order to settle charges of exportation of crude petroleum from the US to Canada without proper US government authorization. This was followed by the EPA’s finding of 10 different violations in 2006 of the Clean Air Act at its Alaska oil refinery.

Space disallows for citing all such violations. But, between 1999 & 2003 alone, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments.

The company has opposed the regulation of & limits on greenhouse gases. They spent no less than $50 million on DC lobbyists between 2006 & 2011. Many Koch Industries’ political campaign contributions have gone toward achieving legislation on energy issues. Koch Industries is on record as having come out against policy proposals to control global warming; this includes Low Carbon Fuel Standards, such as the legislation that became law in 2007 in California.

In “Koch-World”corporate profits trump responsible environmental safety standards. Disregard for human life continues unabated & harbingers of injustice reign supreme.

*Sources:

Center for Responsive Politics

Greenpeace

Bloomberg News

The Wall St. Journal

The US Dept. of Commerce

The US Environmental Protection Agency

The US Dept. of Justice

Jay is on twitter @BermanJ1





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