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Bill Koch: The Dirty Money Behind Cape Wind Opposition

Bill Koch: The Dirty Money Behind Cape Wind Opposition

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Published by Greenpeace
Bill Koch, founder of the Oxbow Corporation, which sells 10 million metric tons of petroleum coke and 8 million metric tons of steam coal annually, is the principal funder of the opposition to Cape Wind, the project to build the nation’s largest wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts.
Bill Koch, founder of the Oxbow Corporation, which sells 10 million metric tons of petroleum coke and 8 million metric tons of steam coal annually, is the principal funder of the opposition to Cape Wind, the project to build the nation’s largest wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Greenpeace on Jul 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/30/2010

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CONTENTS
I. Bill Koch Background
- Family History and Feuds- Tax Loopholes- Big Spender
II. Polluter of many kinds
- Oxbow Company prole- Environmental Violations- Colorado Forest Fights- Coalbed Methane- Petroleum Coke
III. Opposing Clean Energy
- Cape Wind- Oxbow Lobbyists Against Cape Wind
I. BILL KOCH BACKGROUND
Koch Family Feud
Bill Koch hails rom a amily rooted in the ossil uels business. Koch Industries is the second-largest privately-held company in the United States, a conglomerate o more than twenty companieswith $100 billion in annual sales, operations in nearly 60 countries, and 70,000 employees. Theindustry areas span petroleum rening, uel pipelines, coal supply and trading, oil and gas explora-tion, chemicals and polymers, ertilizer production, ranching and orestry products.
1
 The amily business dates back to the 1920s, when Fred Koch, ather to our sons includingBill, developed a process to rene more gasoline rom crude oil. When the major oil companiessued him or patent inringement, Fred went to the Soviet Union to build oil reneries in 1929. Kocheventually grew disenchanted with Stalinism and returned to the United States where he launchedhis company, Rock Island Oil & Rening in the 1940s. Bill Koch’s older brother, Charles, renamedthe company Koch Industries and took over as CEO ater his ather’s death in 1967. Today, Charlesand David (Bill’s raternal twin brother) control the vast majority o Koch Industries assets. Charlesand David Koch each own 42% o the company stock and are tied or the 19th richest person in theworld, worth between $14 and $16 billion according to Forbes 2009 rankings.
2
 The Koch Industries amily business has been a major battleground or a decades-long amilyeud. According to their mother, Mary Koch, the trouble began at dinner during the 1979 Christmasholidays. ‘’Bill sat opposite rom me at the table and all he did was make unkind remarks aboutCharles. I got up and let the table crying.’’ Attempted coups o the Board, lawsuits with counter-lawsuits, and settlements involving hundreds o millions o dollars characterized the confict betweenthe our sons o Fred Koch As a boy, Bill Koch was oten jealously aspiring to be like his older brother, Charles. He wasmuch less athletic than both Charles and David, recalling that he was “the baby, the amily nerd.” The parents sent Charles to boarding school at the age o 11. ‘’We had to get Charles away be-cause o the terrible jealousy that was consuming Billy,’’ says Mary Koch. ‘’Billy has always been tooemotional.’’ Charles, David, and Bill were reunited at M.I.T. in 1958 where David was the basketballstar and team captain. Bill only made the second string. As Charles remembers: ‘’There would beDavid out on the court starring, and Bill would be sitting on the bench.’’
3
Bill Koch:
The Dirty Money BehindCape Wind Opposition
 
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 The relationships o the brothers during their youth seem to have held steady through adult-hood. Bill began his career at Koch Industries as a consultant in 1971. He rst managed a amilyventure-capital und that eventually ailed. Later, as President o Corporate Development, he madeendless and unproductive project proposals according to other Koch executives.Bill’s main criticism o Charles’ leadership was the reinvestment o company’s prots back intothe business instead o paying dividends to shareholders (which almost entirely consisted o Kochamily members). ‘’Here I am, one o the wealthiest men in America,’’ Bill says, ‘’and I had to borrowmoney to buy a house. What’s the point o building a company i you are not able to take out theassets and do what you want with them?’’.
4
In the early 1980s, Bill unsuccessully attempted to seize control o the Koch Industries board,and was red rom his vice-president job. Charles wanted Bill and their eldest brother Fred, Jr. tosell their shares to the company. Resulting lawsuits and counter-lawsuits continued until June 1983when a settlement was reached. Bill Koch reportedly received $620 million rom Koch Industries orhis 21 percent stake, which he used to launch his own energy business. Fred Koch Jr, the eldestbrother, joined Bill in the lawsuit and received $400 million. Ater a two-year hiatus on court battles,Bill Koch sued Charles and Koch Industries again and demanded more money, claiming his stockhad been undervalued.
5
The lawsuit and appeals dragged on or nearly two decades, until a Kansasederal court upheld the decision o the district court in avor o Charles Koch.
6
 The legal battles were not conned to disputes over the price o Bill Koch’s shares. Bill suedCharles and Koch Industries again in 1989, ater accusing them o stealing oil rom Native Americanreservations and public lands. Koch Industries was the middleman, buying oil at the well, thenselling it to reneries. Bill Koch said the company cheated on measurements and paid or less oilthan they took. The jury ound that Koch Industries did steal oil rom the public and lied about itspurchases 24,000 times. In May 2001, a settlement was announced calling or Koch Industries topay $25 million in penalties to the US government. About a third o that money went to Bill Koch orbringing the suit.
7
Bill, Charles, and David also agreed never to take any legal action against eachother or their companies again, including penalties against each party i they resume a legal battle.
8
 Tax Loopholes for the Wealthiest Americans
Bill Koch has a knack or exploiting tax loopholes. He was determined to win the America’sCup yacht race, and obtained tax-exempt status or the America3 Foundation, his racing syndicate. This drew severe criticism rom both tax experts and yachting enthusiasts when Koch donated $10million o his own money to the oundation. Because o this action, U.S. taxpayers in eect subsi-dized Koch’s 1992 America’s Cup victory. Koch said in an interview that the contribution rom hispersonal unds could save him “a couple million bucks” on his taxes. He’s also angrily complainedabout the costs o competing in the America’s Cup race. “It’s dissipating assets that could be betterused elsewhere in society,” said Koch. “The amount o money is obscene and wasteul.” Asked whytaxpayers should subsidize a wealthy American’s yachting hobby, America3 Vice President M. BradRobinson replied, “You want an answer why, you’d have to ask the guys in Congress” who wrote thetax law.
9
Bill Koch moved to Palm Beach, Florida in order to take advantage o exemptions romcorporate income tax, originally designed as tax breaks or mom-and-pop small businesses.Koch’s business, Oxbow, currently employs 1200 people and makes $3.7 billion in annual sales.
10
 “That’s the reason I came here — it’s tax riendly,” said Koch. “I’ve done a lot o sailing and, well, therules aren’t air,” said Bill Koch, the oil man. “Lie ain’t air. You play according to the rules that aregiven to you.” When Massachusetts denied him an abatement on taxes he paid in his 1983 stocktransaction, Koch sued. The courts ruled in avor o Koch ater a 10-year battle, and he received$46-million. He made the move to Florida ater Massachusetts attempted to raise his taxes. He said,“I they’re going to treat me that way, screw ‘em.
11
 
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Big Spender 
Bill Koch is known or expensive hobbies. His extensive art collection is oten loaned tomuseums as a temporary exhibit. When the Koch collection was displayed at the Museum o Contemporary Art, San Diego, it underwent a biting review in the Los Angeles Times: “[The Kochcollection] is…assembled in the ashion o many a millionaire who wants some bang or his buck.”
12
  At Boston’s Museum o Fine Arts, the exhibit “Things I Love: The Many Collections o William I.Koch” also drew criticism in local newspapers. Koch demanded a written apology and retractionrom the Boston Globe and hinted at legal action, stating “i they back you in a corner…I’m going tocome out like a snarling badger.
13
Koch’s hobby o wine-collecting has made recent headlines as well. He has led multiplelawsuits ater his expensive global investigation revealed he was scammed. He paid $500,000 orour bottles o 200-year-old Jeersonian Bordeaux, which turned out to be ake. He sued the Ger-man wine merchant who said he “discovered” a cache o Jeerson wine in a Paris cellar. Koch hasalso sued multiple other parties claiming they sold him ake wine, including Zachys Wine Auctions,Caliornia Internet entrepreneur Edward Greenberg, the Chicago Wine Co., Chicago- based JulienneImporting Co. and New York auction house Acker Merrall & Condit.
14
II. OXBOW CORPORATION
Oxbow Overview:
Bill Koch ounded theOxbow Groupin 1983 with settlement money rom legal disputes overhis shares o the amily’s business, Koch Industries. Oxbow is a privately-held energy corporationcurrently based in West Palm Beach, Florida. A conglomerate o two dozen companies, the OxbowCorporation makes over $3.7 billion in sales annually, operates in nearly 20 countries, and employsmore than 1200 people.
15
The business is primarily centered on petroleum coke sales and coalmining, selling10 million metric tons o petroleum coke and 8 million metric tons o steam coaleachyear. The company is also active in natural gas production and in sales o industrial products suchas gypsum and bauxite.
16
Oxbow Mining’s Elk Creek Mine, located in western Colorado, produces 6 million tons o bituminous coal annually. Oxbow claims that Elk Creek’s production is on pace to make it one o thetop ve producing underground coal mines in the United States, expected to produce more than 60million tons o coal rom privately held and ederally leased tracts over the next 10 years.
17
Environmental Violations:
Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine has been cited withover 2000 violationsby the Mine Saety andHealth Administration. Oxbow has paid over $960,000 in nes since beginning the operation o themine ten years ago. O the 2000 violations, over 400 were deemed “signicant and substantial,”meaning they could result in injury or death. One single violation o mine ventilation regulations inMarch 2010 cost Oxbow a penalty o $45,000.
18
Explosive coal-dust buildup, excessive methane, in-adequate ventilation, and poor maintenance including re extinguishers, were among the violations,according to MSHA’s database. Such “signicant and substantial” violations can lead to injuriesand tragic atalities. Though the MSHA investigation has not been completed, excessive methaneand improper ventilation were recurring problems at Massey Coal’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed in an explosion in April 2010.
19
In the last decade, theonly two atalities in Coloradocoal mines occurred at Oxbow opera-tions.
20
The Associated Press reported the death o a 37-year old miner in December 2000 atOxbow Mining’s Sanborn Creek Mine, likely due to a aulty tting on a high-pressure hose.
21
At theElk Creek Mine, a 26-year-old miner died in January 2007 when a bundle o materials ell on him.
22
 The manager at Elk Creek Mine,Jim Cooper, told the Denver Postin 2007 that “citations don’thave anything to do with saety records…I think a lot o citations hinder saety conditions at a mine…I [managers] have to deal with answering citations, it’s a waste o time.

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