William Koch targeted for changing 
his support for renewable energy

The notorious Koch brothers are hitting the media these days like a group of aging rock stars. Within the past few days, Charles Koch has been called “the scariest man in America” by Alternet’s Paul Buchheit. His younger brother William — whose name Charles is said never to speak — has shifted his political loyalties to protect his investments, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

CPI released a new profile of William Koch entitled, “William Koch Emerges from Shadow of Famous Siblings,” Charles and David Koch.

Prior to 2012, CPI’s Michael Beckel of explained, “Billionaire businessman William Koch … operated green energy plants on multiple continents and had a reputation for being more politically moderate than his better-known brothers, Charles and David. These Koch Brothers are the principal owners of Koch Industries, Inc. and founders of the American Legislative Economic Council, which gives business leaders access to legislators who will promote industry-friendly legislation.”

When William Koch engineered the break-up of the family energy conglomerate in 1980, he touched off a family fight that kept the brothers in court for most of the decade. In the final agreement, brothers Charles and David took ownership of Koch Industries, Inc., while William accepted a multibillion-dollar settlement.

With his share, William built his own Oxbow Carbon LLC business network, which includes coal mines in the North Fork Valley of western Colorado. In his early years with Oxbow, William took advantage of high government subsidies for wind energy and other renewable energy sources to invest in the international wind farm network described by Beckel.

Once a champion of renewable energy and an advocate for slowing climate change, William now “rejects the ‘apocalypse of global warming’ (and) says investing in alternative energy is ‘foolhardy.’ ” Beckel said.

A CPI analysis of data from January 1989 through June 2013 by the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics showed that “During the 2012 election cycle, (William) Koch’s support for the GOP surged. Prior to that time, nearly two thirds of his giving benefited Democrats.”

By 2012, Oxbow was in the vanguard of opposition to government subsidies for renewable energy. “The alternative energy business is uneconomical unless you get a government subsidy or a government-enforced contract,” William Koch said.

As subsidies declined, William divested himself of renewable-energy investments and increased his holdings in heavily polluting industries until his assets grew to closely resemble those of his brothers.

So did his political giving. In the 2012 election cycle, William Koch’s companies contributed $4.35 million to GOP super PACs — more than any other company, according to a CPI analysis of federal records.

The majority of that sum — $3.75 million — went to Restore Our Future, the main super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential bid.

Other conservative recipients of William Koch’s largesse in 2012 included former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Florida Rep. Allen West and Florida’s incumbent Sen. Connie Mac IV. All were defeated in the 2012 election.

As William Koch divested himself of renewable energy stocks, Oxbow Carbon LLC, the “holding company for all Oxbow business,” focused its interests on natural gas, coal, petroleum coke and sulfur — the same dirty commodities exploited by his brothers.

Beckel seems to feel betrayed because William Koch has shifted his position on renewable energy over the years.

William spent millions of dollars in 2012 to “aid politicians he sees as more business-friendly and to fight the Obama administration’s moves to combat climate change.”

Failure in that fight could mean costly new regulations for Koch’s expansive Oxbow Carbon LLC business network.

It seems William Koch escaped from the shadow of his brothers only to find that he now casts the same shadow over his own image.

Rather than complain about William Koch’s change of heart, Beckel and CPI need to be preparing for 2014, when Democrats will need to take on all the Koch brothers over their ambitious plans to extend their influence on American energy policy.

Bill Grand lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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I somewhat understand Mr. Koch’s attitude.

I helped with the development of the Oxbow Geothermal power field in Dixie Valley NV in the late 1980’s when he was interested in “green” energy projects. It was a small but successful venture which he eventually sold off.

Colorado has been estimated as the 4th largest potential geothermal electric power generating state. However, almost every attempt to really develop geothermal power in Colorado is usually met with rabid environmentalist opposition. I don’t blame Mr. Koch for having a sour attitude when he has to face excessive legal / environmentalist headaches even when it comes to a source of “green” energy.

Todd Miskel, don’t you ever get tired of repeating the industry lines? Can you name three large buildings in Grand Junction that are heated/cooled with geothermal power? I can.

Ms. Konola…

Obviously you can’t tell the difference between “Direct” geothermal usage and Geothermal Electric Power Generation.

Maybe you dislike it because it involves the “Demon” drilling rigs you hate to access the energy. These projects create good paying jobs and stimulate local economies.

I don’t know why Colorado is so afraid of geothermal electric power when the “green” haven of California has extensively developed their geothermal electric power resources at places such as “The Geysers”, China lake NAWC / Coso hot springs, (both of which I have had a part in developing) as well as the state of Nevada which has extensive geothermal electric power development.

Colorado should follow suit in taking advantage of our larger geothermal resources.

I’m glad that you addressed me directly because it gives me the opportunity to actually have a discussion with you.
First I am not opposed to drilling so long as it is done responsibly and safely. In fact once upon a time in another life I made multi-million dollar loans to the oil and gas industry. Most environmentalists recognize that we need fuel to power our economy. We are not against geothermal projects, you just assume we are without discussing it with us. We would like to tip the balance away from fossil fuels because the emissions are damaging our planet and contributing to climate change. Maybe if you stopped assuming what we know and actually talked to us, we could find some common ground and work together instead of always butting heads.

Ms. Konola,

I don’t mind having a level headed discussion regarding energy development. It just irks me sometimes that the liberal media just bashes the energy industry and gives no credit for what they are doing. I started in the industry in 1979 and have been away for about 3 years. Believe me, huge strides have been made in environmental stewardship by the energy companies compared to when I started. They deserve some credit.

It seems to me that the liberal media promulgates fear based emotional thinking for the energy under-educated, and cries for more and more regulation will only drive the price up for the average consumer. Companies pass on additional expenses to the consumer, and families have to struggle harder in our already inflation-rampant society. Necessary changes are fine, but it seems to me many environmentalist groups have more concern for their politics and less for the true life issues.

One final comment…

Why is it that within just a few weeks after some new fossil fuel based energy project is announced, the very next headline usually is environmental groups have filed a LAWSUIT against it? I never hear where they have tried every other alternative first, including sitting down and talking with the energy companies themselves. It seems they don’t want to compromise or discuss either…they just head straight to the high cost lawyers and courtroom.

Recently I read in the GJ Sentinel that the average taxpayer is paying for environmentalist lawsuits thru the Equal Access to justice Act? This needs to STOP!

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