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The Koch brothers' dirty money in California

  • Posted on: 23 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

The New York Times editorial "The Brothers Koch and AB 32" takes on efforts by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch to block California's signature climate law by pouring money into Proposition 23:

Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.

Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.

Flint Hills, a wholly-owned subsidiary of oil giant Koch Industries based in Kansas, has joined with Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro in trying to block California's landmark climate legislation by funding the campaign to pass Proposition 23. As the second largest private company in the US, Koch Industries has plenty of money to pour into this fight. Greenpeace: Koch Industries: Secretly funding the climate denial machine

In fact, the $1 million from the oil billionaires is only one tentacle of the oily Kochtopus. As we detailed in our report "Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine," oil billionaires David and Charles Koch have become kingpins of climate denial, funneling tens of millions of dollars to front groups and think tanks that oppose climate and clean energy policies. In recent years, they have even surpassed ExxonMobil in contributions to climate denial organizations.

Those front-group-tentacles have also reached California. David Koch's favorite front group, "Americans for Prosperity," is running TV ads promoting Proposition 23, and AFP's California director has said that the Prop 23 is the group's "top priority." Although AFP purports to be a 'grassroots' organization, in fact it was founded and is co-chaired by David Koch, and, as our report shows, Koch Foundations have poured more than $5 million into this front group. As David Axelrod told Jane Mayer of The New Yorker in her extraordinary investigative article exposing the Koch brothers, "What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”

The Kochs are also directly funding political candidates who will support their agenda — including California senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who supports Proposition 23. KochPAC gave her $5,000 earlier this year, and is even co-hosting a fundraiser for her in Washington DC to give thousands more.

The fight over clean energy and climate policy in California is dripping with out-of-state oil money because the oil billionaires want to stamp out the progress that has been made to move toward clean energy and energy efficiency, and keep us addicted to their fossil fuels. That's how they became oil billionaires, after all. The NYT editorial concludes:

Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.

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Ecuadorians ask Watson to take responsibility for Texaco’s hazardous waste in the Amazon

  • Posted on: 21 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Message from Ecuador to Chevron CEO John Watson

 

Amazon Watch has assembled a video directed at Chevron CEO John Waton, asking him to take responsibility for the billions of gallons of dumped contaminants leftover from Texaco operations in Ecuador.  The merger between Chevron and Texaco was steered by Watson, who became CEO on December 31, 2009.

"A heartfelt message from the Amazon rainforest communities in Ecuador to new Chevron CEO John Watson: "We don't want to continue dying of cancer." This video message appeals for Chevron to clean up its massive contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon that has devastated the environment and continues to cause widespread cancer, birth defects, and other ailments."

Video link: Message from Ecuador to Chevron CEO John Watson

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Greenpeace International activists shut down Chevron deepwater drilling ship

  • Posted on: 21 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Greenpeace activist speaks from the Arctic

 

Earlier today, Greenpeace International activists started taking action against a massive oil drilling ship, stopping it from leaving to drill a deep water well off the Shetland Islands. They are now occupying the ship's anchor chain one mile off the coast.

Anais and Victor climbed up the giant anchor chain of the 228m long drill ship, Stena Carron, and are now suspended from the chain in tents. They are preventing the anchor from being pulled up and effectively blocking the ship from moving to its drill site. Greenpeace International is calling on North Sea governments to adopt a ban on all deepwater drilling.

Two days ago a handful of Greenpeace activists slipped away from our ship, the Esperanza, in Aberdeen and boarded a ferry for the Shetland Islands. Then this morning, when the drill ship looked like it was about to move - they started the peaceful action.

The ship is operated by oil giant Chevron and was due to sail for a site 200km north of the Shetland Islands to drill a well in 500 metres of water in an ecologically sensitive area known as the Atlantic Frontier.

Anais and Victor have just returned from a Greenpeace expedition to the Arctic, where they were members of the team that stopped drilling at a controversial deep water drilling rig operated by Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy.

For the full story, more picture and video links, and live updates, visit GoBeyondOil.

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Rachel Maddow: “Oil companies bus in workers for pathetic PR stunt in Ohio.”

  • Posted on: 20 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

090910 Koch Brothers.m4v

Rachel Maddow recently revisited two of her favorite targets: Charles and David Koch.  Maddow discusses David Koch's attempt to run for office (and the gold coins he minted featuring his own face), the funding of Proposition 23 by Koch subsidiary Flint Hills Resources, and the efforts to organize "Rally for Jobs" events by groups receiving Koch money. 

The 2010 Rally for Jobs is this years version of the American Petroleum Institute "Energy Citizens" rallies held last summer, which a leaked letter written by CEO Jack Gerard revealed to be covered in oil money.  Like last summer, oil companies actually bussed employees to attend the rallies, as Maddow reports.

Rachel Maddow has done several previous spotlights on the Koch brothers, including this look at how the Kochs fund the climate denial machine, and a close investigation of Koch Industries' ties to the tea party.

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Chevron hires intelligence firms with Blackwater ties

  • Posted on: 20 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Writing for The Nation, Jeremy Scahill reports that leaked documents reveal Chevron and several other major multinational corporations have consulted security and intelligence firms with ties to Blackwater, the notorious private military contractor.  Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, has close ties to companies Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center, both of which are owned and chaired by Blackwater founder Erik Prince. 

Other solicitors of the Prince companies include the Walt Dinsney Company, Deutsche Bank, and Monsanto, which expressed interest in using Total Intelligence Solutions to infiltrate animal rights organizations.

 

The full article can be found in The Nation.  More on Xe (Blackwater) can be found at SourceWatch, Crocodyl and CorpWatch (and their cited sources).

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After Valero and Koch donate millions, NPRA president begs for more money to fight Prop 23

  • Posted on: 17 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Despite obtaining over $4 million from Valero, $1.5 million from Tesoro and $1 million from Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills Resources, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association sent out a plea, literally, for more money to undermine California's legislative effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions and implement more clean energy.

In an email to members of the NPRA, president Charles Drevna wrote, "I am pleading with each of you—for our nation's best interest and for your company's own self-interest."

More can be found at the Wall Street Journal online.

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Valero, Koch Industries fund fight against California clean energy and climate legislation

  • Posted on: 16 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Valero Energy and Koch Industries subsidiary Flint Hills, neither of which are based in California, have invested millions in the industry attempt to suspend California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32).  Texas-based Tesoro Corporation, another oil refiner, is also heavily invested in the fight.

As dirty energy influence peddlars are pulling the usual economic apocalypse arguments, a recently-released assessment concluded that not following California's plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions and implement clean energy would be the worse economic option. 

Passing Proposition 23 would simply leave California more polluted and less prosperous, while oil executives and lobbyists would continue to rejoice at their personal profit at the expense of a healthy planet and healthy people.

 

The full story can be found on the L.A. Times blog, and more at DeSmogBlog.

 

Picture source here

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Chevron had serious Gulf blowout in 2008

  • Posted on: 10 September 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

 

"A 2008 Chevron blowout appears in hindsight to have been a rehearsal for Deepwater Horizon and its design problems. Like BP, Chevron was in the final stages of drilling a well aboard Transocean rig Discoverer Deep Seas. Because of the blowout, drillers lost 500,000 gallons of drilling mud into the earth below the wellhead, and spilled 293 gallons onto the ocean floor."

Full article: "Deadly Gulf blowouts persist"

-Houston Chronicle, July 20, 2010

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