In 2010 Koch Industries and the billionaire brothers who run it were exposed as a major funder of front groups spreading denial of climate change science and a key backer of efforts to roll back environmental, labor, and health protections at the state and federal levels. Through enormous campaign contributions, an army of lobbyists, and funding of think tanks and front groups, David and Charles Koch push their agenda of a world in which their company can operate without regard for the risks they pose to communities, workers, and the environment. This report, Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at risk of a Poison Gas Disaster, examines how Koch Industries has quietly played a key role in blocking yet another effort to protect workers and vulnerable communities; comprehensive chemical security legislation.
Since before the September 11, 2001 attacks, security experts have warned of the catastrophic risk that nearly every major American city faces from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Nevertheless, ten years later, thousands of facilities still put more than 100 million Americans at risk of a chemical disaster. According to the company's own reports to the EPA, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries Invista, Flint Hills, and Georgia Pacific operate 57 dangerous chemical facilities in the United States that together put 4.4 million people at risk.
A coalition of more than 100 labor, environmental, and health organizations has advocated for comprehensive chemical security legislation that would help remove the threat of a poison gas disaster by requiring the highest risk facilities to use safer processes where feasible. Koch Industries and other oil and chemical companies have lobbied against legislation that would prevent chemical disasters, despite repeated requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for disaster prevention. Instead Koch favors an extension of the current, weak Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) that exempt most facilities and actually prohibit the authority of DHS to require safer processes. As in other policy areas, Koch's huge efforts have gone largely unnoticed. An analysis of lobbying disclosure records reveals that since 2005, Koch has hired more lobbyists who lobbied on chemical security issues than the largest chemical companies such as Dow and Dupont. Koch lobbyists even outnumber those at trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute - only the American Chemistry Council hired more.
Koch campaign contributions also reveal the company's influence over the chemical security debate in Washington DC. All of the key Senators and Representatives who have taken a lead role during the last year in pushing legislation that supports Koch’s chemical security agenda have received Koch campaign contributions. The House members who introduced two bills that would extend CFATS without improvements and block the DHS from requiring safer processes for seven years have all taken KochPAC contributions over the last three election cycles, including Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX), Peter King (R-NY) and Dan Lungren (R-CA). And all of the cosponsors of similar legislation in the Senate - Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and before his retirement, George Voinovich (R-OH) - received KochPAC contributions during their most recent elections. As Congress debates how to protect Americans from dangerous chemical facilities, Koch is once again opposing disaster prevention legislation, despite the enormous risk its facilities pose to communities, workers, and the environment.
1. The Problem
As of July 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified 4,069 “high risk” domestic chemical facilities. Many of these facilities are located in densely populated areas with stockpiles of hazardous chemicals that threaten hundreds, thousands, or, in some cases, millions of people with unnecessary risks.
As an interim measure, in 2006 Congress directed the DHS to establish a stopgap chemical security program until comprehensive legislation could be enacted. As a result the DHS created the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) in the fall of 2007. The program was meant to expire after three years and since then major flaws have been identified including:
- Hundreds of “port facilities” and 2,400 water treatment plants are exempt from regulation;
- Facilities are not required to consider safer chemical processes where feasible because the DHS cannot require that specific security measures be implemented at chemical facilities;
- Chemical facility workers are not included in the site security assessment process.
In part, the chemical industry’s lock-step opposition to changing the program has frustrated lawmakers who would add teeth to CFATS. Chemical trade associations and individual companies have flooded Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign donations in an effort to deter any such action. This report documents the activities of one of these companies, Koch Industries, and its unique role in blocking comprehensive chemical security legislation.
This report shows how Koch Industries has helped to derail the enactment of a prevention oriented chemical security program with targeted lobbying activities and campaign donations. Where the company could have feasibly implemented safer chemical processes, many of Koch Industries’ facilities continue to stockpile ultra hazardous chemicals. Koch Industries not only refuses to use safer available chemical processes, but it also pressures Congress to perpetuate weak security standards that do not require the use of safer chemical processes.
2. Koch Industries’ Dangerous Chemical Facilities
Koch Industries operates 57 dangerous chemical facilities nation-wide. These facilities are dangerous because they stockpile huge quantities of toxic gases and flammable chemicals that put entire communities outside the fence-line at risk of death or injury in the event of a release. In most cases, the risk is preventable, as there is a growing universe of proven safer alternatives for dangerous chemical processes (see Center For American Progress's Chemical Security 101, page 9). Implementing these safer alternatives can reduce or even eliminate the number of people threatened by a facility’s toxic chemicals.
A few chemical companies have taken steps to move away from their dangerous processes. One example is the Clorox Company, which announced in 2009 that it would convert all of its bleach manufacturing processes from using elemental chlorine gas, to high-strength bleach. With this change Clorox will no longer endanger approximately 13 million Americans (Chemical Security 101, pp. 29-45). Koch Industries, whose chemical facilities currently endanger over 4.4 million Americans, has not embraced this view and openly opposes inherently safer technologies (IST) requirements. Koch claims that the implementation of safer chemical process requirements will put the industry at a "competitive disadvantage."
The implementation of safer processes is especially relevant for Koch as one of its facilities puts 1.8 million people at risk of injury or death and another seven put more than 100,000 people at risk each. This section profiles dangerous chemical facilities operated by Koch Industries and its subsidiaries Flint Hills, Georgia-Pacific and Invista.
Koch Industries’ Flint Hills:
Koch Industries operates ten high-risk chemical facilities under its Flint Hills subsidiary. Nine of these facilities stockpile flammable chemicals such as butadiene, butane, and/or propylene. One, the Flint Hills Resources, LP-CC West Refinery in Corpus Christi, TX stores hydrofluoric acid (HF), a Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) chemical. The plant’s stockpiles of HF endanger 350,000 people.
The community that lives with this disaster risk is made up of historically marginalized citizens. According to the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), 84.5% of residents in the immediate vicinity of the plant identify as a minority and 36.4% live below the poverty line. For comparison, in 2006 the percentage of the US population that identified as a minority was 31.8% while those living below the poverty line were estimated at 12.9% of the population.
Flint Hills uses HF to refine gasoline. In February of 2011, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and ABC News jointly released a series on hydrofluoric acid and the danger that the chemical poses to workers and communities. CPI noted that among the country’s aging refineries, “over the past five years authorities have cited 32 of the 50 refineries using HF for willful, serious or repeat violations of rules designed to prevent fires, explosions, and chemical releases.” In 2001, Koch Industries was fined $20 million for criminal violations of the Clean Air Act at its Corpus Christi refinery for releasing enormous quantities of Benzene, a known human carcinogen and then conspiring to cover it up.
In a release scenario at the Flint Hills facility, those exposed to HF would experience symptoms of varying severity. Ingestion, inhalation, or extensive exposure to the skin can result in the lungs filling with fluid (pulmonary edema) and/or death. Other side effects can include severe damage to the eyes, vomiting, abdominal pain, painful lesions, throat irritation, cough, and lung injury (Chemical Security 101, pg. 50). An in depth look at human exposure to HF was documented by ConocoPhillips.
By transitioning to an alternative chemical process, Koch Industries can reduce the danger that the Flint Hills refinery poses to the La Porte community. The best option currently available is a solid acid catalyst, such as the InAlk product, that eliminates the need for HF. Transitioning to this alternative would eliminate the risk of a catastrophic release of the HF catalyst. If this Flint Hills refinery along with the 49 other refineries that use HF were to convert to these alternatives, millions of lives would no longer be at risk from a release of this chemical. This technology is on the market by more than one company and yet Koch is unwilling to change its process to make its facility more secure.
The Georgia-Pacific Corporation, acquired by Koch Industries in 2005, is a producer and distributor of paper products. Georgia Pacific operates nineteen hazardous facilities. Of these nineteen, three facilities each put more than 100,000 Americans at-risk:
|Georgia Pacific Operation
||Number of people at Risk
|Palatka Operations (Palatka, FL)
|Consumer Products (Camas, WA)
|Port Hudson Operations (Zachary, LA)
Chlorine dioxide can affect people in a variety of ways. In lower workplace exposures the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that:
Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant.... Inhalation can produce coughing, wheezing, respiratory distress, and congestion in the lungs... Irritating effects in humans was intense at concentration levels of 5 ppm. Accidental exposure at 19 ppm of the gas inside a bleach tank resulted in the death of one worker (time of exposure is not specified).
These side effects were observed at only ambient workplace levels. In a catastrophic release of chlorine dioxide, the gas could be more concentrated leading to more severe reactions. Skin irritation, tissue and/or cellular damage, visual disturbances, the lungs filling with fluid (pulmonary edema), and death are all in the realm of possible reactions.
There are safer chemical processes that can mitigate or prevent catastrophic releases of chlorine dioxide. Paper can be bleached with an oxygen-based process using ozone or hydrogen peroxide (Chemical Security 101, p. 15). These processes can be completed without chlorine dioxide, which could eliminate the risk of a catastrophic disaster at these Georgia Pacific facilities.
Invista, another Koch company, is a producer of resin and fibers intermediaries. The company was founded as a DuPont subsidiary in 2003 and acquired by Koch soon afterwards in 2004. 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.
In its short corporate existence, Invista has earned a reputation for poor environmental stewardship. In April of 2009, the Justice Department and EPA ordered Invista to pay $1.7 million for an estimated 680 water, air, hazardous waste, emergency planning and preparedness, and pesticide violations. It was estimated that the company would have to spend an additional $500 million to correct these violations.
The La Porte, TX plant uses formaldehyde in the production of spandex fibers. Aside from its acute risk, studies have indicated that workers exposed to formaldehyde on a regular basis are at an increased risk of cancer. Koch Industries is a high-profile critic of these studies and any government regulation of formaldehyde.
Symptoms of formaldehyde exposure can vary based on factors such as the gas’ concentration level. At low exposure rates, .1-5 ppm, formaldehyde can cause eye irritation, skin irritation, or respiratory tract irritation. At more elevated concentrations, 5-20 ppm, can cause burning of the eyes, tears, and breathing problems. In even higher concentrations, 20-100 ppm, formaldehyde can cause the chest to tighten, an irregular heartbeat, severe lung irritation, the lungs to fill with fluid (pulmonary edema), and death (Chemical Security 101, p. 49)
The danger that Invista’s La Porte plant poses to the community is unnecessary. Koch can reduce the overall risk to the community by improving the plant’s pipeline delivery capabilities. In this arrangement, formaldehyde can be synthesized on an as-needed basis, eliminating the need for bulk storage of the chemical and the accompanying risks.
3. Koch lobbying on Chemical Security Legislation
On its website, Koch Industries clearly states its position on chemical security legislation. Koch unambiguously advocates for a permanent extension of the flawed Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), and against comprehensive legislation that the House of Representatives passed in 2009 (H.R. 2868). In delivering its criticisms the company has used misleading information and made factual errors.
Koch falsely claims that in the House passed bill “the IST [“inherently safer technologies”] provision would require manufacturers to use certain products and processes without regard for practicality, availability or cost.” Koch’s first error is that the term “inherently safer technologies” does not appear anywhere in the legislation. Instead, the bill refers to the implementation of safer processes as “methods to reduce the consequences (MRC) of a terrorist attack on [a] chemical facility.” H.R. 2868 represented a compromise that would have made only the highest risk plants subject to conditional requirements to use safer processes where feasible and cost effective. Other conditions in H.R. 2868 include that MRC must reduce the risk to human health; must not shift the risk of a chemical release to another facility; can be practically applied to a facility and do not cause the chemical facility undue economic strain. In other words, the bill explicitly allows owners and operators of chemical facilities to factor in practicality, cost, and availability before transitioning to safer chemical processes of their choosing.
Koch also makes the unsupported claim that “mandating IST would result in even more job losses and higher consumer prices as American manufacturers struggle to comply with the new regulations and compete with overseas manufacturers.” Koch references no study or academic analysis to support this assertion. However, Greenpeace tested Koch’s concern over employment by commissioning an independent economic analysis of H.R. 2868, performed by Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI). The analysis projects the effects of H.R. 2868 on the job market and economy as a whole. The firm drew two conclusions: “we estimate that H.R. 2868 will create a total gross sales impact of almost $2 billion in the first year of 2011 and account for about 8,000 jobs.” To put it more simply, H.R. 2868 would produce a moderate economic stimulus and result in job creation not loss.
Another misleading claim from Koch Industries’ chemical security policy statement is that, “during this time not one incident of terrorism has occurred.” The danger of this argument is that it directs attention away from the real issue: terrorists are actively seeking opportunities to attack our chemical infrastructure, and a single successful attack could be catastrophic for millions of Americans. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, for example, it was discovered that the hijackers’ ringleader, Mohammed Atta, may have been interested in staging an attack on a chemical facility that stockpiled 250 tons of Sulfur Dioxide, a chemical of interest regulated under CFATS. More recently, the Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist network, the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, had terrorists conduct surveillance operations on a high-risk chemical facility in Maryland. Information from the journal of Osama Bin Laden has revealed Al Qaeda’s interest in attacking the American rail system, the most common method used to transport hazardous chemicals throughout the country. The Department of Homeland security has also issued a warning to utilities, including water treatment facilities that use chlorine gas, that their facilities may be victims of an insider attack. The assumption that because terrorists have not yet attacked a U.S. chemical facility, they will not do so is simply wishful thinking. To truly end the catastrophic threat that chemical facilities pose to communities we must eliminate any possibility of a chemical disaster, terrorist induced or accidental.
Koch Industries’ Toxic Lobbyists:
To achieve its goal of extending the weak CFATS program, Koch Industries uses its in-house lobby shop, Koch Companies Public Sector, to pressure Congress directly. The company has also hired eleven other firms (at a total of forty-five individuals) to lobby on chemical security legislation since 2005. An analysis of lobbying disclosure records from major companies and industry groups reveals that Koch Industries has played a central role in stalling chemical security legislation. Indeed, Koch has hired more lobbyists who worked on chemical security than its largest peer companies, including chemical industry heavyweights such as Dow and Dupont. Koch’s chemical security lobbyists outnumbered even industry trade groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute; the only group that listed more lobbyists on chemical security was the American Chemistry Council, which purports to represent the entire chemical industry sector.
All data are taken from publicly available lobbying disclosure forms available at the Clerk of the House of Representatives’ website.
(Chart 1 -- number of lobbyists employed in a given year.)
US Chamber of Commerce
Chart 1 shows the number of lobbyists that a company or trade association hired each year to influence chemical security legislation. The data indicate that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) typically hires the most lobbyists on this policy matter. One important qualification is that the ACC is a chemical industry trade association and purports to represent the collective interests of chemical manufacturers. According to its website, more than 150 distinct chemical companies pay membership dues for the ACC’s services (including household names such as Dow Chemical and DuPont).
Koch Industries, a single corporation, is consistently a close second in the number of lobbyists that it sends to Capitol Hill on chemical security. In some cases, Koch actually out-lobbies the ACC, as was the case in 2008. By comparison, peer companies of Koch Industries such as BASF, the Dow Chemical Company, and DuPont have never reported an equivalent lobbying force.
Aside from the ACC, Chart 1 shows the lobbying forces of five other trade associations. These are the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Petrochemical Refiners Association (NPRA), and the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD). Each of these organizations, like ACC, purports to represent the policy interests of its chemical and petrochemical industry members.
Koch leaves no room for interpretation of its lobbying activities. The company is engaged in efforts to extend the flawed CFATS program for as long as possible, and avoid any requirements that its facilities make changes that would protect nearby communities from a poison gas disaster. The fact that Koch as a single corporation sends more lobbyists to Capitol Hill than chemical industry trade associations and its peer companies is indicative of the investment the company has made in stalling comprehensive legislation. American communities remain at risk of a chemical disaster in no small part because Koch has used its vast resources to stall disaster prevention legislation.
4. Koch Industries’ Toxic Money
In conjunction with its direct lobbying efforts, Koch Industries also exerts influence over lawmakers with campaign contributions to members of Congress and candidates who will support the company’s opposition to protective environmental and worker safety standards. Among the politicians that Koch funds is a bipartisan group of well-placed lawmakers with sway over chemical security legislation. These politicians generally sit on one of the three primary committees with jurisdiction over chemical security policy; these are the Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security Committees (in the House of Representatives) and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (in the Senate).
Each of the key Senators and Representatives who have taken a lead role over the last year in pushing legislation that supports Koch’s agenda of blocking comprehensive chemical security legislation have received Koch campaign contributions. In 2010, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), George Voinovich (R-OH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) introduced legislation that would extend the flawed temporary CFATS law and fail to require any disaster prevention at the highest risk chemical plants, while leaving thousands of hazardous oil refineries and water treatment plants exempted. In March 2011, the legislation was reintroduced with minor changes, and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) replaced Senator Voinovich as a cosponsor, who retired in 2010. Koch Industries' praised the 2010 legislation as an "encouraging effort."
All five Senators who sponsored this Koch-backed legislation received KochPAC campaign contributions in their most recent election. Since 2005, KochPAC has given Senator Landrieu and her PAC $36,500, Senator Pryor and his PAC $30,000, and Senator Voinovich's PAC $15,000. Senator Collins received $6,000 from KochPAC during her 2008 reelection campaign, while Senator Portman's 2010 election campaign enjoyed contributions from both KochPAC and the Koch Brothers' families; $10,000 from KochPAC and $2400 each from David and Charles Koch, their wives Julia and Elizabeth, and Charles' son Chase and his wife Annie, for a total of $24,400.
In the House of Representatives, the members who introduced legislation in line with Koch’s chemical security policy objectives have each received tens of thousands of dollars from KochPAC. In the House Homeland Security Committee, HR 901 was introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Dan Lungren (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, which has primary jurisdiction over chemical security policy. In the Energy and Commerce Committee, HR 908 was introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX). The influence of Koch campaign contributions on chemical security legislation can also be seen in the May 26, 2011 Energy and Commerce Committee vote on HR 908. Twenty-nine of the thirty-three Energy and Commerce members whose votes supported Koch’s agenda, including all five Democrats, have received contributions from KochPAC.
House Committee on Homeland Security
Total Koch Donations to HCHS Members (112th Congress - 2006-2010): $273,000
Koch Campaign Donations to Republican: $237,500
Koch Campaign Donations to Democrats: $35,500
Representative Peter King (R-NY)
Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security (HCHS)
$37,000 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
King put his weight behind a measure to extend the flawed CFATS program for seven years, H.R. 901, as the bill’s cosponsor. H.R. 901 will not require the most hazardous facilities to implement safer chemical processes where feasible.
Interestingly, King has not always been against disaster prevention. In 2006, King was quoted in Congressional Quarterly as saying that legislation “should not preclude chemical conversions to inherently safer technology, or IST” and voted along with his committee for H.R. 5695 which became the basis for the compromise adopted by the House in 2009 (H.R. 2868).
Representative Dan Lungren (R-CA)
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies
$22,500 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
Early in the 112th Congress Lungren wrote the seven-year extension of the flawed CFATS program, H.R. 901. In Subcommittee, Lungren led the Republican majority to vote against Democratic amendments that would require facilities to asses their ability to convert to safer chemical processes, close regulatory loopholes, and involve non-management level workers in the chemical security process. In 2006, however, he voted in committee for H.R. 5695 which became the basis for the compromise adopted by the House in 2009 (H.R. 2868).
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Total Koch Donations to E&C Members (112th Congress – 2006-2010): $622,100
Koch Campaign Donations to Republicans: $523,100
Koch Campaign Donations to Democrats: $99,000
Representative John Shimkus (R-IL)
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment
$50,000 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
Shimkus assured the passage of the flawed CFATS extension, H.R. 908, through his Subcommittee on May 4, 2011. In full mark-up, Shimkus proposed an amendment to increase H.R. 908’s authorization from six to seven years. Shimkus has opposed conditionally requiring dangerous chemical facilities to implement safer technologies even when feasible. He has also voted against whistleblower protections and measures to close CFATS’ regulatory loopholes.
Representative Raymond "Gene" Green (D-TX)
Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment
$18,500 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
Green cosponsored H.R. 908, a measure to extend the flawed CFATS program for a period of seven years. Green’s Houston area district, Texas-29, is home to 16 chemical facilities that each put more than one million people at risk. One of those facilities, Koch Industries’ INVISTA plant in La Porte, puts 1.8 million people at risk of a catastrophic formaldehyde release.
In the 111th Congress Green voted for H.R. 2868, a comprehensive overhaul of CFATS that would have closed the regulatory gaps, conditionally required the implementation of safer processes, and involved workers in site security planning. Green is one of only 11 other Democrats serving in the current House to receive campaign donations from Koch Industries in the 2010 election cycle (Appendix H).
Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA)
Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment
$15,000 from KochPAC (2008-2010)
Representative Murphy introduced H.R. 908, a seven-year extension of the critically flawed CFATS program, along with Representative Gene Green. Murphy has opposed granting authority to the Department of Homeland Security to require specific security measures at chemical facilities, including safer chemical processes.
Koch Democrats: $79,000 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
- Jim Matheson (D-UT) - $25,500
- John Dingell (D-MI) - $10,000
- Mike Ross (D-AR) – $17,500
- John Barrow (D-GA) - $8,000
Representatives Matheson, Dingell, Ross, and Barrow broke rank with their fellow Democrats to vote for H.R. 908 in the Energy and Commerce Markup. All four have received campaign funding from Koch Industries over the last three election cycles. In contrast, sixteen other Democrats voted against H.R. 901; of these sixteen only one member had received funding from Koch sources.
Representative Mike Ross has two dangerous Koch chemical facilities in his district.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
Total Koch Donations to HSGAC Members (112th Congress –2006-2010): $224,300
Koch Campaign Donations to Republicans: $121,800
Koch Campaign Donations to Democrats: $92,500
Koch Campaign Donations to Independents: $10,000
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC).
$6,000 from KochPAC (2006-2010)
Collins has introduced multiple bills backed by the oil and chemical industries that would significantly extend the flawed chemical security program. Her most recent attempt, S. 473, is a three-year extension that will not address the fatal flaws with the CFATS chemical security program. Collins vehemently opposes any attempt to include even conditional requirements for dangerous chemical facilities to implement safer chemical processes.
Koch Industries has publicly endorsed Collins’ chemical security legislation in the past (Appendix C).
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
$35,000 from KochPAC
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
$30,000 from KochPAC
Joining Sen. Susan Collins in her attempts to extend the weak chemical security program, CFATS, are Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mary Pryor (D-AR) as cosponsors. Senator Landrieu has received $5,000 in direct campaign contributions with an additional $30,000 to her leadership PAC from Koch Industries, since 2006. Senator Pryor has received $10,000 to his campaign and an additional $20,000 to his leadership PAC. Landrieu and Pryor rank second and third respectively on HSGAC in terms of campaign funding from KochPAC.
Pryor has two Koch facilities in his district that threaten 6,651 people and 36,129 people respectively with their holdings of chlorine dioxide and formaldehyde.
Landrieu’s district has three Koch facilities that respectively put 49,500, 81,210, and 230,263 Louisianans at risk from an Anhydrous Ammonia or Chlorine Dioxide release.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
$24,400 from KochPAC and the Koch family
Soon after his election to the Senate, Senator Portman joined Collins as a cosponsor of S 473, aiming to extend the weak chemical security program.
Senator Portman received $10,000 from KochPAC, and $2400 each from David and Charles Koch, their wives Julia and Elizabeth, and Charles' son Chase and his wife Annie, for a total of $24,400 (data provided by the Center For Responsive Politics through the OpenSecrets.org Donor Lookup).
Koch Industries is engaged in activities to prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from using the best security methods of preventing poison gas disasters at dangerous chemical facilities. Koch’s lobbying efforts speak to the substantial investment that the company has made in blocking the implementation of a truly protective chemical security program. Also campaign contributions from KochPAC and the Koch Brothers themselves are directed at the election campaigns of politicians who are now spearheading the company’s chemical security agenda. Meanwhile, Koch Industries’ facilities continue to put at least 4.4 million Americans at risk of a disaster at one of their chemical facilities.
Despite Koch’s political machine working at full force, other members of Congress have introduced legislation that can fix the systemic problems in the CFATS program. Provisions in this legislation include:
- Conditional requirements for the most dangerous chemical facilities to implement safer chemical processes;
- Language that closes the regulatory loopholes which exempt arbitrary classes of chemical and petrochemical facilities
- Measures to include non-management level workers in the site security planning process, whistleblower protections, and safeguards against background check abuses
- The necessary discretion for DHS to require specific security measures at chemical facilities
These provisions are necessary in any bill that would truly protect Americans from chemical disasters, and lawmakers must stop allowing Koch Industries and other oil and chemical companies to stand in the way of effective, comprehensive chemical security legislation.
By John Deans and Will Vickery
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