Last night Koch Industries issued a statement on Kochfacts.com that effectively agrees with the main tenet of our new report: Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at Risk of a Poison Gas Disaster.
“Koch supported the bipartisan Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Standards (CFATS) that was enacted four years ago. We regarded CFATS as the most feasible and productive measure being proposed and, what’s more, we advocated for its reauthorization in 2011.” –Koch Industries
“Advocated” means lobbying, and that’s exactly what our report shows. Koch has deployed one of the largest army of lobbyists to reauthorize this weak security program and fight against policy that would focus on preventing chemical disasters. CFATS was meant to give the Department of Homeland Security a head start while Congress got its act together. The DHS is now asking Congress for a comprehensive plan that removes the exemptions for other high-risk facilities (some of them owned by Koch) and also to include the use of “inherently safer technologies” as a measure to make facilities more secure.
Well, ok, Koch didn’t agree with everything we said in our report. Koch's so-called "response" in fact fails to even address the vast majority of our report's findings. They make no mention of their lobbying activities to block comprehensive chemical security legislation, their campaign contributions to key lawmakers, or why they have failed to convert their dangerous chemical facilities to safer processes. Koch claims that they “place safety and compliance before profits.” If Koch truly placed safety before profit, why haven't they converted their dangerous facilities to safer alternatives? Companies like Clorox are already taking this step to convert all of their high-risk facilities to safer technologies. Koch, on the other hand, is still operating 57 of their facilities in ways that put over 4 million people in a catastrophic danger zone.
They also object to the way we characterize their subsidiary Invista's environmental record. But aside from an attempt to distract from Invista’s environmental violations by emphasizing that they were “self-reported,” Koch fails to address the main issue raised in our report: "Invista operates four dangerous facilities, the most dangerous of which is the INVISTA Intermediates Plant in LaPorte, TX. This facility puts an estimated 1,889,251 people at risk with its use of a formaldehyde process." Why does Koch feel that it is acceptable to endanger 1.8 million people in the Houston area, and why hasn’t the company addressed that issue in their “response?”
Koch also is disappointed that we didn’t tout their "386 safety awards and 28 environmental awards." Many of these are from industry groups like the American Petroleum Institute or the International Liquid Terminals Association. Koch is even a prominent member of some of the groups that gave Koch "awards" such as the National Petroleum Refinery Association. Other "awards" are from organizations like the Wildlife Habitat Council (board members include vice presidents of Monsanto, Dupont, and ConocoPhillips), or government agencies recognizing Koch for doing what they should do anyway.
Finally, Koch tries to distract from the issues we have raised by attacking Greenpeace: “Greenpeace’s radical agenda is widely known and it is highly irresponsible for it to use national security as a cover to advance their extreme policy preferences.” – Koch Industries. First, the fact that Koch doesn't seem to think this is a national security issue shows how little regard the company has for the extraordinary threat of dangerous chemical facilities. National security experts have stated time and again that these facilities are a major threat and that is why the DHS has requested the authority to require safer technologies.
As for Koch's attack on Greenpeace's supposedly "extreme policy preferences," we are proud to stand with a coalition of more than 100 labor, environmental, and health organizations in calling for comprehensive chemical security legislation. We believe that if a dangerous chemical facility can feasibly use a safer technology or process and remove the risk of a poison gas disaster, then it should do so. And it's precisely because of companies like Koch that put profits over the health and safety of their workers and nearby communities that our regulators should be allowed to require that. Koch Industries believes that it should be allowed to operate without regard for the communities and workers they threaten with a poison gas disaster; that’s what is irresponsible, radical, and extreme.
I addressed the main concerns last night on RT's The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann: