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Koch EPA Agenda: Education or Self-Interest

February 6, 2011

ASHEHAM PRESS OP-ED: According to the Los Angeles Times today, David Koch of Koch Industries and co-founder of Americans for Prosperity, wants to educate Americans on ” a return of the federal government to its constitutional limits.” That translates into concentrating power in the hands of the few and those few are a select group of very wealthy conservative idealogues who wish to strip the EPA of it power so they can continue to run their polluting producing businesses unabated.

This is no small thing. Americans for Prosperity contributed $40 million in the 2010 mid-terms. Small change for a billionaire of Koch’s caliber who is said to be worth $21.5 billion. David Koch is the chairman of the board and actively promotes an anti-EPA and anti-environmental agenda. Why? Because Koch Industries is one of the country’s largest polluters involved in petroleum and chemical refining. They also market asphalts and other petrochemicals. Koch’s group is linked to recently elected House representative, Fred Upton, Republican from Michigan. Upton received $20,000 in donations from Koch employees in 2010 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Upton, appointed to the has been spouting classic Koch rhetoric: the EPA has a chokehold on environmental regulation and that is bad for business. What they mean is it is bad for their business. Recently passed legislation will regulate carbon emissions and force businesses to clean up their plants costing them millions in the process. The Koch are resisting such regulations.

So, the claim of educating American citizens on constitutional limitations has nothing to do with civics and everything to do with using a slanted argument to further their private business concerns at the expense of the safety of America’s air and water. What is this slanted argument: EPA regulations represents an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs unless Congress steps in and thwarts their power.

What oil industry titans are fighting is an industry in decline. What? How can that be when
profits at “Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, soared 53% in fourth quarter profits powered by rising oil prices and natural gas. Demand for oil and gas rose last year and is expected to rise again this year. The company benefited from higher profits in its chemicals and refining units. Analysts said it also benefited from a lower tax rate in the fourth quarter of 38% compared with an expected 46%.”

“Oil and natural-gas output rose 19% during the fourth quarter to the equivalent of 4.97m barrels a day, the most in the 128-year history of the company. Last year Exxon made its biggest acquisition since 1999, buying XTO Energy, the US’s largest natural gas company for $41bn.”

Demand and higher costs are driving prices, not typical growth. It is a fact that it costs more to drill for oil because the easy oil is long gone. Oil companies have to drill deeper and in more dangerous conditions – and as we saw in the BP gulf oil spill it is risky business. So there is less oil, costs more to extract it, and there is still high demand. The fact is we are at the end of the peak oil era and entering the oil depletion era.

Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, and the combined production rate of a field of related oil wells.

Peak oil, the point of maximum production, will precede oil depletion where falling reserves and supply will occur – and it will occur. The American Petroleum Institute estimated in 1999 the world’s oil supply would be depleted between 2062 and 2094, assuming total world oil reserves at between 1.4 and 2 trillion barrels and consumption at 80 million barrels per day.

So, it is no wonder that oil companies who dominate global energy do not want to fade into the sunset. There is billions to be made as less oil can be extracted. Scarcity at some point will drive oil prices even higher. By that time, me and the Kochs will be long gone. The real educational point is that there is a paradigm shift occurring and the Koch brothers cannot stop it – so they want to exploit it for everything its worth. What the world needs now is accelerated alternative energy development — meaning clean energy. Wind, solar, hydroelectric are the future and we need to get to it. You see, part of promoting an anti-environmental agenda is all about maintaining the status quo – which is fast on its way out. Here is a comment on consequences of oil depletion:

A peak in oil production could result in a worldwide oil shortage, or it could not even be noticed as demand decreases in conjunction with increased prices. While past shortages stemmed from a temporary insufficiency of supply, crossing Hubbert’s Peak would mean that the production of oil would continue to decline, and that demand for these products must be reduced to meet supply. The effects of such a shortage would depend on the rate of decline and the development and adoption of effective alternatives.

If alternatives were not forthcoming, it has been speculated that the numerous products produced with oil would become scarcer, leading to at the very least lower living standards in developed and developing countries alike, and possibly in the worst case to the collapse of the entire international banking system, which could not likely sustain itself without the prospect of growth. The political situation may change dramatically, with potential wars between countries over access to dwindling supplies. Accordingly, inequalities between various countries and regions of the world may become exacerbated.

Now, if the Koch brothers were truly interested in bettering America, American constitutional values, they would not persist in their efforts to undermine the EPA. They would get on the train to the next generation of clean energy development. They are dominant players now and show no real interest in bettering America. They do not care that their companies pollute air and water and impacts Americans health. SourceWatch reports:

Koch Industries is also a major polluter. During the 1990s, its faulty pipelines were responsible for more than 300 oil spills in five states, prompting a landmark penalty of $35 million from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Minnesota, it was fined an additional $8 million for discharging oil into streams. During the months leading up to the 2000 presidential elections, the company faced even more liability, in the form of a 97-count federal indictment charging it with concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene, a known carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. Koch Industries was ranked number 10 on the list of Toxic 100 Air Polluters by the Political Economy Research Institute in March, 2010.

In a study released in the spring of 2010, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the United States’ top ten air polluters.

Now that’s an education. Keep that in mind when Fred Upton touts Koch ‘American values’ while attempting to strip the EPA of its regulatory authority.

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