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July 20, 2011

The Koch Brothers and Tar Sands

Tar sands tailings pipeline in CanadaThe Koch brothers claim that they have not taken a position on whether the Keystone XL pipeline should bring up to 900,000 barrels of the most carbon-intensive, toxic oil on earth into the United States. Really? The Koch brothers were the largest contributors to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 2010 election cycle. This is the same committee that, under the leadership of its new chairperson Fred Upton (R-Michigan), has taken numerous actions to pressure the State Department to approve the pipeline. Not taking a public position doesn't mean you're not backing approval of the pipeline or pulling the strings of your Republican puppets who are backing it.

But what do the Koch brothers have to gain from this pipeline? According to the Pembina Institute, the KXL pipeline would open the door for tar-sand oil not only to a larger U.S. market but also to a global market by transporting the oil to the Gulf of Mexico, from where it could be exported everywhere. Pembina reports that several KXL shippers have publicly acknowledged that the pipeline "would create the market signals needed to commit future investments and increased production."

Increased tar sands production could significantly benefit the Koch brothers, who own Flint Hills Resources, LLP, which is among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers, and exporters. Interestingly, Flint Hills also operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, which is located at the start of the KXL. The Koch brothers have proposed and are producing tar sands projects in Alberta, and they operate a Corpus Christi refinery near the end of the KXL pipeline that would be a potential buyer of the tar sands crude.

In the end, to know who backs the KXL pipeline you need only "follow the money." Who funds the politicians that are pressing for its approval? Who stands to gain from the increased production, transport, and refining of tar sands oil? And who has consistently funded a pro-oil agenda? Answer: the Koch brothers.

Photo is of a Syncrude tar sands tailing pipeline and pond in Canada, courtesy of DirtyOilSands.org and GarthLenz.com.

-- Michael Marx, Director of the Beyond Oil Campaign

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