Koch Industries Fights Chemical Plant Safety Measures

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaanah/69591938/in/photostream/">Cole Young</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Among the Koch Industries lobbying crew’s many agenda items—climate change denial, school segregation, a right wing media takeover—is the company’s fight against legislation that would raise US chemical plant safety standards to protect against potential terrorist attacks capable of harming millions of Americans.

A new investigation published by the Center for Public Integrity reveals the extent of Koch Industries’ efforts to combat safety measures recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security:

The Center for Responsive Politics puts Koch at the top of its list of the 80-odd firms, local governments and other groups lobbying Congress to shape or prevent passage of a wide-ranging chemical security bill.…Chemical safety legislation has been one of Koch’s most important priorities in the last four years, during which the firm has spent $44 million lobbying in Washington on this and other issues.

Destructive environmental impacts and employee health concerns used to be the biggest risks chemical plants posed to their communities. But after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security became concerned with how attacks on these plants would harm the densely populated communities around them. The worst case scenarios the DHS found include chemical explosions, spills, and gas clouds that could either kill or seriously harm millions of people living in the plants’ vicinities.

But really, how serious is the threat of a terrorist blowing up a chemical plant on US soil? It’s serious enough that the EPA keeps its records of chemical plants’ risk management plans under lock and key—members of the public can only view 10 documents per month, while being closely monitored by EPA officials.

Koch Industries, the second largest private company in the US, owns 56 chemical facilities throughout the US, giving it a vested interest in safety measures like the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards bill. CFATS was first introduced as a temporary measure in 2007 until Congress could pass more comprehensive legislation. Since then, lobbying funded by Koch Industries and other groups has helped block the passage of stricter protections, including a proposal to require inherently safer technology in chemical plants. Inherently safer technology, also known as IST, would require chemical plants to use safer chemicals, or less of them, often increasing costs for plants.

Despite Koch Industries’ assurance on its website that it “places compliance and safety before profit,” it also states just a few lines down that “onerous security measures such as [inherently safer technology]… fail to produce a marginal benefit relative to their significant cost.”

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate