Keystone: Don’t Like This Senate? Buy Yourself a Better One

Two notable facts come into focus as the U.S. Senate today came within a whisker of forcing through the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline – linking the Alberta tar sands petro-moonscape with warm-water U.S. export terminals in Texas. First, the Koch Brothers are revealed to be the largest non-Canadian owner of tar sands mineral rights, holding acreage the size of the state of Delaware. Second, those same Koch Brothers are estimated to have spent roughly $300 million to influence U.S. Congressional elections this year.

That’s roughly $300 in political spending for every acre of tar sands oil they own.

When you think about it, that’s a pretty small investment for so much oil.

The Washington Post reports today: “You might expect the biggest foreign lease owner in Canada’s oil sands, or tar sands, to be one of the international oil giants, like Exxon Mobil or Royal Dutch Shell. But that isn’t the case. The biggest non-Canadian lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the privately-owned cornerstone of the fortune of conservative Koch brothers Charles and David. The Koch Industries subsidiary holds leases on 1.1 million acres — an area nearly the size of Delaware — in the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada.”

And during the election season, The Huffington Post reported: “The billionaire Koch brothers and their political network are planning to spend almost $300 million during the 2014 election cycle, some of which will go toward a renewed effort to combat unprecedented carbon regulations unveiled by the Obama administration last month.” Of course, the exact amount can’t be known, because U.S. law permits the Kochs and others to keep most of their spending secret.

Tar sand petro-moonscape. Courtesy of Sierra Club Canada

Tar sand petro-moonscape. Courtesy of Sierra Club Canada

If your business plan called for the destruction of more than a million acres of boreal forests, digging out vast mountains of tar-soaked soil, wringing out a killing in oily bitumen, and leaving behind indigenous peoples  awash in enormous lakes of toxic sludge, wouldn’t $300 per acre seem like a small price to pay? Especially if the Congress you purchased was willing to force its farmers and ranchers to give you a pipeline right-of-way through the heart of its breadbasket?

We continue to pray for justice for the victims of tar sands oppression. Today, those prayers test our faith in new ways, as the rich and powerful flex their muscles in Congress. Lord, open our eyes to see the true Sovereign of this world, with eyes unclouded by the many pretenders who claim it as their own.

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations…. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” (Isaiah 42:1, 4)

3 thoughts on “Keystone: Don’t Like This Senate? Buy Yourself a Better One

  1. Michael

    The Kochs are not using KXL. They are not investors in it, and they have no space reserved in the pipeline. Please don’t spread misinformation.

    Reply
    1. John Elwood Post author

      Michael, the Washington Post reports that the Kochs are the largest investors in the Alberta tar sands, with 1.1 million acres. I have been to the tar sands, and it’s obvious that all production there is constrained by the lack of transport to export terminals. It doesn’t matter if the Kochs are specifically transporting their product via the KXL, although I don’t know how they hope to move their bitumen. Until more pipelines like that are built, the transport logjam – whether rail, truck or pipeline – will prevent development of more acreage, including those leased by the Kochs. I don’t believe anyone disputes this.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        They have their own pipelines. And, from everything I can read, KXL is made to move regular crude oil, not bitumen. Also, oil prices have collapsed, so it is likely that there will be no increase in production any time soon.

        Reply

Leave a Reply