Guess who stands to gain from development of Canada’s tar sands oil, which will be accelerated by approval of the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands exports pipeline? That’s right, our friends the Koch brothers.
New research from the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) confirms that Koch Industries has a huge financial interest at stake in KXL’s approval, which could become “stranded assets” if KXL is not approved. The Koch Brothers’ combined net worth ($100 billion) is far more than Bill Gates’ ($78 billion), allowing Koch to outspend all other oil companies-even Exxon-in blocking climate change policies. Koch has repeatedly denied any interest in KXL, but we now see that the very opposite is true.
Alberta’s government land sales database (left) shows Koch with over one million acres in Alberta, Canada (yellowish splotches inside purple area of Athabasca tar sands). Official records reveal Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC (KOSO) purchased 1.1 million acres of land that likely contain enough carbon-rich oil to profit the world’s two wealthiest men tens of billions of dollars. But without KXL, the Kochs’ remote carbon reserves could be too costly to develop and transport from the middle of the continent, saddling Koch with potentially billions of dollars in unexploited carbon they can’t get to market profitably if KXL is rejected.
Which means, of course, that any Democrat who supports development of the Keystone XL pipeline may be giving the Koch brothers the rope to hang them with. Those Democrats include several Senators up for election this year, such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mary Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, and our own Mark Warner. Meanwhile, the Koch brothers – who stand to benefit from this very project – have already spent $25 million (or more) “in crucial 2014 House and Senate races, according to Democratic media-buying sources.” And they’re likely to ramp that up a lot further as the year goes by, including against the Democrats who’ve voted in favor of the Koch’s interests regarding the Canadian tar sands. Perhaps it’s time for Democrats up for reelection in “purple” states in 2014 to rethink that approach?