Exposed: The Koch Brothers' Ties to the XL Pipeline and Cash to Congress
March 9, 2015
Stefanie Spear / EcoWatch & The International Forum on Globalization & Bob Sloan / The Daily Kos
The International Forum on Globalization has released new maps of tar sands assets in Alberta, Canada that reveal the connection between the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the Koch Brothers. These billionaire brothers are top donors to the Republican Party and they have worked -- and spent heavily -- to make sure that fast-tracking the pipeline is the GOP-controlled Congress' top priority.
New Map Shows Koch's Connection to Keystone Pipeline
Stefanie Spear / EcoWatch & The International Forum on Globalization
(March 5, 2015) -- The International Forum on Globalization released new maps yesterday of tar sands assets in Alberta, Canada. The maps clarify the connection between the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the Koch Brothers, who are top donors to the Republican Party and have worked to make fast-tracking the pipeline Congress' top priority.
"Visualized data from online sources tracking leases in the tar sands territory shows that the Koch brothers, who have more money that any single person on the planet, hold close to two million acres in Alberta, making Koch the largest US leaseholder with almost as many carbon assets at stake than Exxon, Chevron and Conoco's combined," according to International Forum on Globalization press release.
Even with the backing of the Koch brothers, the Senate failed yesterday to override President Obama's veto of the Keystone XL bill, with a vote of 62-37, that would have forced approval of the controversial pipeline. To override the President's veto it would have required 67 votes in the Senate.
"Keystone XL's failure could potentially leave Koch with a family fortune of ‘stranded assets' in Alberta, a fifty year bet on Canadian crude gone bad for the world's biggest billionaires that would be a boon for our rapidly warming Earth," International Forum on Globalization concluded.
In the 2014 Elections, the Koch Brothers
Pledged to Raise $500,000,000 for Their Candidates
Globalization's extreme concentration of financial wealth is enabling the political power of super-rich individuals to play an unprecedented role in driving policy decisions. Almost all democratic movements today see their proposals paralyzed by money corrupting politics. With wealthy donors increasingly influential, by far the biggest force financing today's attacks against progressive policies are Charles and David Koch.
The Kochs quintupled their combined net worth in recent years, from $10B in 2005 to $50B in 2011, and now have reached over the $100B mark. This number renders the Koch brothers the wealthiest people on the planet, surpassing even the infamous Microsoft magnate, Bill Gates. "Koch Cash" has since become the single biggest source of funding to fight collective bargaining, clean air, voters' rights, women's rights, and strong social safety nets, in almost all regulatory arenas.
After radicalizing the House of Representatives via their Tea Party's takeover of one third of available seats during elections in 2010, the Kochs led a $1B blitz in 2012 to replace the President, seat several more Tea Party activists in the Senate, and seize swing states to gerrymander permanent hardliners. With both the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, money in politics has even less regulation.
In order to counter the network of Koch funded organizations -- a complex machine we call the Kochtopus -- we engage in constant rigorous research and reach out to leading progressive organizations to bring citizens critical information about the Koch's spending, agenda, interests, and victims.
The growing network of Charles and David Koch has become anathema to democratic ideals by using the new paradigm that money equals speech to spread their free-market fundamentalism, to elect politicians that align themselves with laws and policies that enrich them, and to muddy the waters on debates about climate change and environmental regulation.
Koch's total control over Congress will worsen today's record of economic inequality and accelerating pace of climate change. Furthermore, the Kochtopus also funds politicians that push for anti-worker, anti-women, anti-voter, and anti-progress ideas on the national stage while using reports produced by groups that are funded by the Kochs.
The whole process is indicative of the larger problem of money in politics. We aim to call out their pro-wealthy, anti-progress candidates and ensure they are thrown out or never elected at all.
KochProblem.org is a project of the International Forum on Globalization Action Fund (IFGAF)
TPP, Keystone XL, Fast Tracking and ALEC
Bob Sloan / The Daily Kos
(January 22, 2015) -- Since 2009 I've written about ALEC's involvement in attempting to establish themselves as players on an international playing field. With "Free Trade" as their primary mantra -- just above that of "Less Government" -- they have been quietly and steadily supporting and advancing the Trans Pacific Partnership deal and the Keystone Pipeline project.
In 2011 ALEC issued a resolution in support of the TPP as I wrote previously. From ALEC's perspective it makes sense to support any "trade agreement" that opens the door to profits for their multi-national corporate members.
Nobody should be surprised to learn that many of ALEC's current (and many of those that have abandoned ALEC) corporate members are supporters and endorsers of the TPP agreement. . . and stand to rake in huge profits from it.
In a special report on ALEC's involvement with federal and international issues in 2012 our VLTP.net organization spelled out how deeply helpful ALEC's congressional alumni have been and many of their legislative pursuits through our Congress.
Please pay special attention to the dozens of federal and international policies, resolutions and issues pursued by ALEC's "International Relations Task Force" (pg's 14-20). Also note the names and countries representing "foreign" nations that sit upon this IRTF of ALEC in this DK diary I wrote in September 2012.
The current pursuit of fast tracking is a favorite tool used by ALEC and their legislative members. Previously I wrote a diary about how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was written by ALEC, introduced throughout the states and ultimately became the federal "law of the land" due to this fast track trickery. With AETA, it passed the House with a majority of "5" votes for to "1" against out of the full house membership of 435 members.
The AETA legislation was sponsored by ALEC alum, James Inhofe (R-OK). Like the current TPP agreement now trending in the US, AETA legislation was fast tracked with ALEC's congressional alumni manipulating the rules in order to secure passage. It appears that they may be successful with fast tracking the TPP to passage now that President Obama has voiced support for it.
Fast tracking allows legislation to pass through congress with a minimal amount of discussion, no amendments and an immediate vote up or down "by the members present" in either house upon the close of discussion.
Not only is big oil, banking, Chamber of Commerce supporting TPP they're also in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. ALEC is a huge supporter of the XL pipeline and in fact sent several state legislative members to Canada on "fact finding" trips in 2012 and 2013. Here is how ALEC described the 2013 trip:
Last month, a group of ALEC members flew to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, to tour an oil sands facility and meet with representatives of the Alberta government, energy companies and an environmental group to learn more about the economic and environmental impact of oil drilling. This is the second year that ALEC's Task Force on International Relations has provided legislative members this opportunity.
". . . New technology also assists in detecting and preventing oil spills, and the ALEC group toured TransCanada's state-of-the-art control room, where every single TransCanada pipeline is kept under 24-hour surveillance. Experts monitor the pipelines and contribute to a continuous stream of information that alerts the highly specialized workers if there is a spill or even if there is movement surrounding a pipe.
The technology is exceptionally sophisticated, and thousands -- if not tens of thousands -- of parts and people monitor the pipeline. Cenovus had a similar control room for the ALEC group to explore. All in all, the energy companies demonstrated a clear interest in the safety of their people and the land surrounding their facility and the land through which the pipelines carrying their oil traverse.
The hands-on approach to educating legislators and private sector members about oil sands mining was invaluable to increasing overall understanding of how oil production affects the local, national and international economy.
The Cenovus oil sands facility in Christina Lake, Alberta, produces approximately 140,000 barrels of oil per day -- compared to the approximately 16 million barrels of oil consumed every day by the US -- and joins other oil production facilities in making Canada the largest provider of oil to the United States.
The Center for Media and Democracy reported on this after they obtained documents revealing:
In October 2012, nine US state legislators went on an industry paid trip to explore the Alberta tar sands. Publicly described as an "ALEC Academy," documents obtained by CMD show the legislators were accompanied on a chartered flight by a gaggle of oil-industry lobbyists, were served lunch by Shell Oil, dinner by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and that the expenses of the trip were paid for by TransCanada and other corporations and groups with a direct financial interest in the Alberta tar sands and the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
Among the nine legislators on the tour was the new ALEC national chairman, Representative John Piscopo from Connecticut, and Senator Jim Smith from Nebraska who has sponsored legislation in his state to speed up the building of the Nebraska segment of KXL. Email records obtained by CMD show that after the trip, legislators were asked by ALEC to send "thank you notes" to the lobbyists for their generosity in Alberta.
Far better than a mere "thank you," Rep. John Adams from Ohio returned from the trip and sponsored a bill given to him by a TransCanada lobbyist calling for the approval of KXL. As previously reported by CMD, similar legislation, reflecting both an ALEC "model" bill and language taken from a TransCanada set of talking points, has been introduced in seven states in 2013.
ALEC has adopted resolutions on both the TPP and XL pipeline. . . [Pdfs of two documents can be viewed online at the source link -- EAW]
As can be seen, ALEC has offered their opinion that their "work" on TPP has helped supporters remain "committed" to the project and pursuing passage of legislation.
Like many others who consider themselves Progressive, I'm stymied at President Obama's position supporting something as dangerous to American workers and economy as the TPP, while shaking his head at the XL pipeline proposal. Possibly that's because the pipeline has been in the news for many years now and has attracted a huge percentage of American's in opposition to this terribly dangerous environmental experiment.
Maybe if more Americans come out in open opposition to the TPP his position will change. I don't know that to be a viable outcome as there are so many voices raised in opposition to it now and he is ignoring them in favor of approving the TPP.
Regardless of which side of the argument the President comes down on, fast tracking this legislation is tantamount to hiding it from our citizenry. If it's all it's cracked up to be. . . jobs created, economy boost, etc. then why not put it on the congressional schedule and fully and openly discuss the merits before the constituency?
In my years, I've found that when folks try and hide facts, keep others from knowing the full details, it's because it is feared that if the truth were known it would be opposed by a majority.
As you can now see. . . both the TPP and Keystone Xl are both staunchly supported by ALEC and their multi-national corporate membership. Most of the same corporations are openly supporting TPP through voiced and written opinions to the government and by lobbying congress.
While this support is ongoing the advocates are working hard to keep the full facts from the general public. . . and in fact many lawmakers have voiced that they are unaware of the facts involved with the TPP. . . so an effort is being made to keep our representatives in the dark alongside their constituents.
To my way of thinking neither the TPP nor KXL pass the smell test and as such are deserving of further critical analysis before being put to congress for a full discussion and vote. As the AETA legislation demonstrated, when one side is well prepared and willing to use the tool of fast tracking to their advantage, terrible laws can and will be created.
Laws that we as Americans are left to live with -- good or bad. Lets not do this now with our environment already in dire need of recovery and corporate raiders seeking to pollute our air with dwindling resources. . . while enriching their corporate investors and board members.
When we take into consideration that ALEC now has a huge number of foreign or "international" members in their organization, it is easy to see how they are able to promote their views and agenda from abroad. . . making it appear that both the TPP and KXL are supported by many countries other than those directly involved in the TPP trade agreement.
Such power wielded from behind closed doors and out of sight of President Obama and most of Congress. I wish all of them would wake up, do their research and realize both of these horrible projects are being advanced by the ALEC/Koch Cabal.
Just throwing this out there for DK readers to digest and understand that in today's world, everything we need to worry about regarding our government, environment and civil rights like voting -- is under attack by ALEC and their donors/supporters.
It is an across the board assault and unfortunately we've been responding as activists to each individual issue instead of going after ALEC and the Kochs in a full fledged counter-attack mode. As I've said on numerous occasions, until/unless ALEC is silenced, their model legislation will continue to flow to our states and through our congress. It will continue year after year as long as they exist.
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