Wednesday, October 18, 2006

King and the Polluter

From guest blogger JH...

Peter King often likes to flaunt his environmental record.
For Instance, Peter King received a $5,000 donation in September of 2006 from Koch Industries, the recent recipient of Vision for America Award in recognition of the company's commitment to continually improving the environmental, health and safety performance of its many companies across diverse industries. Koch Industries specializes in petroleum, building materials, forest products, and chemical manufacturing, and other environmentally hazardous products, and is one of the largest privately held companies in the world.
The problem is, Koch Industries holds the honor of being involved in the single largest wrongful death suit, in actual damages, in the history of the United States. (see Smalley v. Koch Industries). Amongst their other achievements, they have also caused over 300 oil spills in seven states due to poorly maintained pipelines, leading to $30 million in fines for violating federal environmental laws.
In 1999, a jury also decided that Koch Industries was guilty of stealing oil over 24,000 times by “adjusting” the volume they collected, ultimately leaving them at least 300 million gallons of oil richer.
Most notably, Koch industries dumped 91 metric tons of Benzene, a carcinogen, near its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas…a crime they tried their best to cover up.
Facing a 97 count indictment, possible imprisonment for top executives, and a $352 million fine, Koch plead guilty to falsifying documents, and escaped with a $20 million slap on the wrist.
How do they do it?
They donate to the right people.
In fact, they donate to a lot of the right people. From 1998-2004, Koch Industries donated $3.9 million to political candidates, more than Exxon-Mobil, which is six times their size. They also spent 2.4 million lobbying in Congress for “humanitarian” legislation that would significantly limit the capacity of consumers to sue, as well as repeal the estate tax.
In 2004, 79% of their contributions went to republicans, including $109,000 to George Bush. In 2000, Bush received $800,000 in donations for his presidential bid, which in turn was repaid when Attorney General Ashcroft dropped almost all of the charges in the Corpus Christi incident. These are the people Peter King takes money from, and owes his favors to.
Koch Industries along with another King contributor Valero Energy will reap a windfall in tax breaks and benefit from bill H.R. 3893 Gasoline for America’s Security Act which passed by a squeaker 212-210.
HR3893 also "imposes strict limits on environmental protection efforts by federal, state and local governments and forces governments and environmental groups to pay the corporations’ legal bills if they lose a case against them."
King was a deciding vote on the bill.

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