Freshwater faces an unprecedented threat from today’s fracking boom, especially from chemicals used to prop open underground micro-fissures to release gas and oil. Among the largest producers of these chemicals is Georgia Pacific, or GP, a subsidiary of America’s second largest private company, Koch Industries, owned by the billionaire brothers, David and Charles Koch.
Fuelfix.com reported on May 19, 2011 that, “GP Chemicals said today it is expanding the capacity of the plant ‘significantly’ to produce more proppant resins in response to the booming fracking business… The expansion doesn’t necessarily mean more jobs at the facility, which employs around 60 workers. But GP Chemicals is considering other products and expansions at the facility as it tries to expand its oilfield services business.”
The Kochs operate at least seven key services for fracking, as outlined below, making it a lucrative stream of profits for financing their expansive national influence network that promotes pro-fracking policies and destroys democracy.
KOCHS AMONG THE WORLD’S WEALTHIEST INDIVIDUALS
Only in the last few years did the Kochs’ combined net worth grow exponentially, from $10B in 2005 to $50B in 2011, making them now the 3rd wealthiest in the world, after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates. 2012 Forbes figures show an additional increase of 24% in net worth in the past year.
The power they wield with this vast personal treasury is exerted through a national influence network they’ve been building for the past four decades to move a radical agenda of corporate libertarianism. White House staff nicknamed their influence network “The Kochtopus.”
Outspending Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute to kill climate legislation in 2010, they hold hostage any prospect for global climate cooperation. They are bankrolling assaults to rollback the right to collectively bargain, the right to vote for youth, pensioners, and communities of color, and the entire notion of public services and social safety nets. Citizens United has spun open the spigots of limitless “Koch-cash” for campaign contributions to advance Karl Rove’s “Red Map Strategy,” possibly doing permanent damage to progressive power bases.
No single constituency alone can counter the Kochs; this unprecedented threat posed by a single source offers a strategic opportunity to unify key constituencies to curb the Kochs’ capabilities to rig the rules in their own favor.
HOW THE KOCHS THREATEN OUR WATER
As Lee Fang noted in Republic Report on March 2, 2012, Koch Industries’ seven key fracking services include:
– 1. Georgia Pacific produces resins used for chemicals used to prop open micro-fractures, an important process for fracking to occur.
– 2. Flint Hills Resources recently purchased a small craft pier and wharf in Ingleside, TX to store shipments of natural gas from fracking operations in the Eagle Ford shale formation. Flint Hills Resources is a Koch Industries subsidiary.
– 3. Koch Supply & Trading, a Koch Industries company that deals with commodity trading and financial products, is “already trading Eagle Ford crude” to help supply Koch companies and other customers, according to a Koch Industries newsletter.
– 4. Koch Chemical Technology Group is designing a processing facility near Yoakum, TX to help process natural gas fracked in southern Texas. Koch Chemical is a subsidiary of Koch Industries.
– 5. John Zink, a Koch Industries company, is providing flares for a natural gas processing plant in Helena to service the fracking industry.
– 6. Koch Industries acquiredKoch Pipeline is partnering with NuStar Energy to develop a dormant pipeline from Pettus, TX to refineries in Corpus Christi. Koch Pipeline is a Koch Industries subsidiary.
– 7. Koch Fertilizer, a Koch Industries company, has tapped into increased natural gas production from fracking to develop fertilizer.
While the Kochs today benefit from, and urge an expansion of, the boom in fracking, the Koch family fortune originated father Fred’s patents on “cracking,” which turns petroleum into gasoline. Forming the bases of the Kochs’ sprawling conglomerate of refineries, pipelines, and storage facilities, their ownership of the industry’s essential infrastructure—and an absence of rules against insider trading of commodities—enables the Kochs to claim position as one of the top five traders in oil derivatives speculation.
At least five factors now make the Kochs a new type of political entity requiring concerted responses:
1. Sheer scale: A personal treasury of $50B brings an unmatched war chest under central command;
2. Ideological clarity: The Kochs’ goals goes beyond mere profit to reducing the overall role of government by advancing a radical ideological agenda into permanent public policies;
3. Long track record: 35 years of “investing in ideology” has ingrained in the US political landscape a national network of influential institutions shaping public discourse to advance their agenda;
4. Control over Congress and Courts: Campaign contributions allow the Kochs to set parameters on, and agendas for, elected officials’ positions, now even more empowered by Citizens United;
5. Mutli-pronged offensive: simultaneous attacks against clean air rights, collective bargaining rights, voting rights, pensions, healthcare, education, and financial reform, among other issues.
The result is a new form of oligarchic power exerting a sort of full-spectrum domination over US democratic processes by shifting Congress radically to the right by funding Tea Party activists, key Committee Chairs, the House Speaker.
GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has adopted Kochspeak of “economic freedom.”
IFG’s recent report, “Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis” identifies the Kochs at the center of US blockage not only on climate but almost all progressive issues.
As greenhouse gas emissions increased and global climate disruptions intensified with two-thirds of all US acreage covered by a deepening drought in the summer of 2012, concerns over water are sharpening, although the role of the wealthiest individuals who rig the rules to enrich themselves needs more scrutiny.