GOP stonewalling on links between Koch brothers and Keystone XL pipeline

  • Published on January 24th, 2012

If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline to transport dirty tarsands oil from Canada, it sure looks like one of the beneficiaries would be his sworn enemies, the Koch brothers.

But their GOP friends in Congress – the multi-billionaire brothers are key funders of conservative causes, including last year’s GOP takeover of the House of Representatives – are blocking questions about the Koch brothers at tomorrow’s hearing on the pipeline.

As revealed in a series of articles at InsideClimate, the Koch brothers are heavily involved in energy, and they told Canada’s National Energy Board in an official regulatory filing that they have “a direct and substantial interest in the application” for the pipeline. (UPDATE: For more on that filing, see this article in The Guardian UK newspaper.)

  • “The Kochs themselves claim on one of their own websites to be ‘among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers, and exporters’.”
  • Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources Canada LP “supplies about 250,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to a heavy oil refinery in Minnesota, also owned by the Koch brothers.”
  • Flint Hills also “operates a crude oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”
  • Pipeline builder TransCanada estimates that by letting this oil get shipped out to the world market, it would increase oil prices up to $3 a barrel (a fact that is not trumpeted in any of the GOP selling points on the pipeline – yes, it would RAISE oil prices for everyone). As InsideClimate points out, with their fingers in various energy pies, this price hike would give the Koch brothers a nice windfall profit.

Congressman Henry Waxman, a great progressive Democrat from Southern California, picked up on the story. As the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he’s been trying to get the Koch brothers in to testify about their involvement. They responded to questions with, to put it gently, evasive answers:

The Koch representatives said that the Keystone XL pipeline has “nothing to do with any of our businesses” and that Koch had “no financial interest” in the pipeline. They also stated that the company neither supports nor opposes the legislation we will be considering next week.

However, Koch’s representatives refused to answer questions about Koch’s activities or interests in the Canadian tar sands. They refused to confirm or deny reports that the company is developing tar sand projects. They also refused to say whether Koch Industries owns—through a wholly owned subsidiary—a terminal involved in the tar sands business.

But he’s being blocked by the GOP. They don’t want this hearing to be about anything but how awesomely wonderful Keystone XL would be and how many great jobs it would create (See:

As Meteor Blades points out at DailyKos, the Koch brothers have spent $50 million lobbying Congress, they launched a major PR campaign when the InsideClimate articles ran… why NOT come state their case to Congress?

The Koch Brothers are eager to present their case in just about every other forum they can, especially those they pay big bucks to support. Surely these billionaires aren’t afraid whoever they send to testify can’t handle a little questioning from Congressmen Waxman and Whitfield and other members of the committee? Or does saying things under oath complicate their usual methodology where the truth is a non-participating bystander at best?

What you can do

Send a message to President Obama that you support him on the environment – either a basic message on the White House website, or by sending a donation via the ActGreen PAC page on You can also support Congressman Waxman via ActGreen.

Show you support the greenest President we’ve seen in a generation – and by donating via ActGreen, you’re reinforcing the message that it’s not just big oil that supports candidates with their donations… it’s also people who care about the environment!

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(Capital Building photo AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Sarah Price Photography)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • BRIAN , You must be a republican.
    The answer is called greed! Why else would they want to do any of the things they are doing like buying votes and making their employees donate money to their PACS?
    Must I go on.

    • I’m gonna have to agree with you. It stands out because with all the evidence available including business records and tax filings you would have to be blind to not see the Koch involvement in this. And the sheer audacity of the companies to raise the price at the pump by over a dollar in a month and a half when the price of crude oil remained almost rock stable (and even dropped some) should tell you what they are trying to do – artificially raise the price to get everyone to support a pipeline that has no possible way of lowering our fuel prices because refineries are already running at 100% capacity. It is to SELL that oil to outside interests which will increase demand and thus price.

  • Jeremy, you need a lesson in economics, and well in everything it appears.

    First, there is not a “glut” of oil running through MN. In fact the dedicated pipeline that services the twin city refineries, of which Koch’s is the largest, is the major default outlet for Canadian Heavy Crude. With the oil sands syncrude and the Bakker oil shell play in ND, the Canadian Heavy Barrel often has few places to go to market. Two years ago, this caused it to reach shut in value when the embridge line went under. So the heavy oil producers have to charge Koch less because they are one of the few places that have geared their refinery and their logistics to take the heavy crude.

    If XL is built, it immediately causes Koch to lose that advantage and there would be more outlets for Canadian crude. Thus they would have to pay more for their chief feedstocks, and wouldn’t be as advantaged as other refineries that are currently suffering having to by more expensive sweet crudes for a smaller amount of suppliers. So more competition would be ushered in with XL. This would allow more refineries to compete, and compete further distances away from their terminalling capabilities, thus lowering fuel prices.

    Warren Buffet and his Legally protect monopoly in BNSF would lose billions, because their more expensive railing of ND and Canadian crude would be cut into by more efficient, and yes, a smaller carbon footprint pipeline. He would be forced to compete more with other lines like UP and that would bring freight rates down. Pretty cool how the free market works. You get better prices, and a truly more green solution.

    And the green aspect goes further. If this pipeline isnt built, more of this crude will ship west on another pipeline proposed and funded by China, the worlds worst polluter. So instead of piped crude south to the US, it will be loaded on tankers and shipped. Further distance over the pacific, burning unclean bunker fuel in the tankers and wind up be used by a country that doesn’t care at all about the pollutants they are putting in the air. So by fighting this pipeline, you are contributing to the destruction of mother earth.

  • 1) Why would they have interest at all if it will be posed as a threat to their largest refinery?
    2) “a direct and substantial interest in the application”- where are you getting this quote from? I cannot find it in the article you linked. And say they do have interests in the pipeline… so what? Have you not thought of the idea that the pipeline was not passed because obama is warren buffetts puppet and everyone knows the pipeline will be a threat to burlington northern…
    3)”+ lots more” wow Jeremy thanks for the great journalistic and intelligent reasoning. You’re article really makes sense now.

  • why would Koch want the keystone pipeline if they already have their own pipeline coming into their minnesota refinery? wouldn’t keystone just be added competition? it is not like the oil from keystone will be moving to their minnesota refinery… If they already are a leader in purchasing and shipping canadian crude then why would they be behind a pipeline that their competitors (like ConocoPhillips- 50% stakeholders) are investing in?

    • Among other things, there’s a glut of oil in Minnesota and across the Midwest right now, keeping prices low. For you.
      The Koch brothers would love to make higher profits by sending some of the over-supply south. Independent analysts say that’s just what would happen.
      And that’s just one element of it. Those guys have their fingers in all kinds of pies, that’s what happens when you’re billionaires…

      • I do not think you are understanding me clearly here. I do not see where you are getting your information saying that Koch is a stakeholder or supporter of Keystone. Why is this falling all on the Koch Brothers again?

        • Read the article again.
          1) Nobody is saying Koch is a stakeholder in Keystone.
          2) Koch said in a mandated filing with the government of Canada that they have interests in the pipeline.
          3) + lots more.

          • Read the article again. I did

            1) “Nobody is saying Koch is a stakeholder in Keystone”. If they are not a stakeholder in Keystone then there is no reason to question them.

            2) “Koch said in a mandated filing with the government of Canada that they have interests in the pipeline”. This is a direct repudiation of you first claim that “Nobody is saying Koch is a stakeholder in Keystone”. I take it you clueless as to what a stakeholder is?
            And where are these mandated filing located, a link please. Not even Waxman is stupid enough to state the Koch have any interests in the pipe line. Waxman to try another tactic during a Monday afternoon hearing on Capitol Hill. He offered to expand his investigation to include all energy companies that might benefit from Keystone XL so as not to single out Koch.
            This would include every gas station owner in America, as every every gas station that sells gas MIGHT be getting fuel from oil that came through the pieline
            Do you know what might means?

      • “The Koch brothers would love to make higher profits by sending some of the over-supply south. Independent analysts say that’s just what would happen.”
        What Independent analysts? Why are you being so Evasive

        “And that’s just one element of it. Those guys have their fingers in all kinds of pies, that’s what happens when you’re billionaires…” Who cares if it’s their own money. What is illegal about investing and risking you own money? Illegal like using tax payers money to cover the lost capital of a major political contributor millionaire, that’s what happens when you’re a corrupt President.

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