Koch Brothers Set Up Shop in Tar Sands Territory

Thu, 2011-03-24 10:56Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Koch Brothers Set Up Shop in Tar Sands Territory

The Koch Brothers, architects of the Tea Party and bankrollers of climate-change denial, have recently set up shop to lobby the Alberta government, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Alberta’s lobbyist registry shows that on March 15, 2011, Koch Industries signed up to lobby the province on energy and resource development policy issues, as well as taxation and economic development.  The registry shows the company’s lobbying activities started March 3, with no fixed end date.

Koch Industries spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia did not say what the company’s objectives are in lobbying the Alberta government, but her one-sentence statement noted that, “Koch companies want to add value by providing quality services and products our customers desire and value in a way that is compliant with all laws and regulations”.

“Compliant with all laws and regulations” seems a bit dubious given the pro-industry and anti-environment lobbying connections to Koch’s Alberta activities we uncovered. 

Calgary-based lobbying group Global Public Affairs was recently hired to head up Koch’s activities.  GPA has clients listed in the petrochemical and tar sands already.  According to the record, Calgary-based David Keto has been hired to arrange meetings and conduct grassroots and informal communications on behalf of the company.  Keto was executive assistant to cabinet minister David Coutts for two years ending in 2003. 

The filer on the lobbying record is former Chief of Staff for former Minister of the Environment David Anderson, who was minister from 2003 through 2004 under Prime Minister Paul Martin.  Randy Pettipas left government to take the position of CEO of Global Public Affairs

A bit of digging reveals that Pettipas worked for the now-defunct Astroturf group the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions from October 2002 through April 2004 (exactly when his former boss, David Anderson, was environment minister).  The short-lived CCRES claimed to be a grassroots group of business, industry and consumer advocacy groups.  An October 2002 list of its members showed its members were exclusively industry groups including major petroleum, industrial, chemical and transportation associations, and in particular the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association, Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Propane Gas Association of Canada and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.  

The Astroturf group appears to have been created entirely on behalf of dirty energy industry interests to defeat the Kyoto Protocol. 

According to Sourcewatch, the domain name for CCRES was registered in September 2002, just a week before its first media events by National Public Relations, Canada’s largest PR agency and an affiliate of Burson-Marsteller.  Grassroots indeed.  The group worked hard to persuade Canadians that Kyoto was a bad idea and instead promoted a “made in Canada” solution. 

CCRES made the spurious claim that if Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol, Canadians would suffer as businesses and individuals were forced to pay out of pocket for exceeding Kyoto’s aggressive targets. CCRES argued that, “This transfer of wealth could instead by spent in Canada, developing technologies that fight greenhouse gases and that can be sold around the world.”

Their tired argument that investing in a clean energy future would be costly, burdensome, and would drive up the cost of energy prices and manufactured goods was plain wrong.  They were not looking for “made in Canada” solutions: they were looking to delay action towards real solutions in order to prolong their dirty energy profits on the backs of Canadians. 

More recently, Pettipas has worked on behalf of anti-environment organizations including Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership, and the Canadian Energy Infrastructure Group.  It also lobbied on behalf of mining big wig Teck Resources Limited, a major player in Alberta’s tar sands.  Teck Resources has been repeatedly criticized and sued for violating environmental laws and standards including in both 2003 and 2008 for heavily contaminating the Columbia River, and causing a lead spill.  The company’s Red Dog mine operation in north-western Alaska was ranked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most polluting facilities in the United States.

If the CCRES and Pettipas’ activities give any indication, the Kochtopus has more than a few tricks up its sleeves for its lobbying efforts in Alberta. Keep an eye out for new developments on this front. 

Image Credit: Zina Saunders at Mother Jones

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