Greenpeace activists are visiting Senate offices around the country to warn them to beware of Koch lobbyists pedaling a catastrophic agenda. This follows the release of our report last month, Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at Risk of a Poison Gas Disaster, exposing how Koch lobbying and campaign contributions are keeping over 100 million Americans at risk of a poison gas disaster, including over 4 million from Koch's own dangerous facilities.
In our report we showed that Koch has 57 facilities that together put more than 4 million Americans at risk of a chemical disaster. They have also deployed one of the largest armies of lobbyists on Capitol Hill who are fighting against comprehensive chemical security legislation in order to keep those facilities from using safer technologies that would make Koch’s facilities safer and more secure. To help their lobbying efforts Koch has been bankrolling key politicians to encourage their support for Koch’s agenda, even while their constituents remain at risk.
Koch’s actions are at the center of one of the biggest security gaps in our nation. Just 300 of the thousands of high-risk facilities put one third of Americans within the danger zone of a poison gas release. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory estimates that more than 100,000 people could be killed or injured within the first 30 minutes of a terrorist attack on a chemical facility. Most, if not all, of these high risk facilities could switch to safer technologies but they are operated by companies like Koch Industries who are refusing to make their facilities safer, and on top of that are lobbying to keep it that way.
Senator Lautenberg has authored two bills that together would close these severe security gaps and make facilities safer and more secure. The Secure Chemical Facilities Act (S. 709) and Secure Water Facilities Act (S. 711) would require the highest risk facilities to convert to feasible safer alternatives, and close the exemptions that allow 2,400 water treatment facilities and 500 port facilities to avoid current security standards. Greenpeace activists visited the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Jeff Merkley, Dick Durbin, Bill Nelson, Michael Bennet, and Kay Hagan to ask them to support these bills and to keep a wary eye out for Koch Industries' lobbyists. As we come up on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it is long past time for Congress to take real action in passing a comprehensive chemical security program that would protect communities from a poison gas disaster.