What Makes Koch Industries ‘Big Oil’ And Why You Shouldn’t Believe The Claims Saying It Isn’t

The Obama campaign and the super PAC Priorities USA recently fired back at Americans for Prosperity, highlighting Mitt Romney’s ties to a funding source of $18.5 million in energy attack ads: Koch Industries.

Koch Industries has produced its own video claiming it doesn’t deserve the label of a secretive Big Oil corporation.

Shockingly, Factcheck.org and the Washington Post have taken up Koch’s argument. Factcheck.org wrote that despite Koch’s $100 billion revenue, the corporation’s diverse holdings mean “it is hardly in the league of the truly ‘big oil’companies.” The Washington Post Factchecker took the same angle.

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While it’s true the most profitable U.S. corporations — ExxonMobil and Chevron — are larger than Koch, using this standard to claim the company isn’t Big Oil is incorrect. Let’s take a look at some key facts:

  • The Koch brothers’ net worth tops $50 billion and they have pledged to spend $60 million to defeat President Barack Obama, according to the Huffington Post.
  • The Koch PAC is the largest oil and gas contributor — donating more than even ExxonMobil — spending over $1 million in each of the last two cycles. This cycle, it has spent almost $750,000. Koch Industries sends 90 percent of these contributions to Republicans.
  • It’s the fourth-largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, spending $2,300,000 so far in 2012 and over $8 million in 2011.
  • Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year, based on the assumption that Koch emits the same amount of greenhouse pollution per billion dollars in revenue as Exxon and Chevron.
  • Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year. This company is responsible for up to five percent of the U.S. 7-gigaton carbon footprint.
  • Koch says itself that the company is on par with big banks and is among the world’s top five oil speculators.
  • Koch is a major player in driving up gas prices through speculation, hurting American consumers. ThinkProgress reported that in 2008, Koch leased four supertankers to hold oil in the Gulf, leading to a gas price increase anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon at the time.
  • According to Inside Climate News, Koch industries “has touched virtually every aspect of the tar sands industry since the company established a toehold in Canada more than 50 years ago.” It is active in mining Canada’s tar sands and exporting to the U.S., and is active in Canadian politics, with half a million dollars in donations between 2007–2010.
  • As reporters consider these factors, Koch has been widely reported as a Big Oil corporation by media outlets like Politico, Forbes, NPR, and Politifact.

It is absurd to say Koch Industries is not Big Oil when it plays such a hugely influential role in a wide variety of fossil fuel markets — all while flexing its power to protect the oil industry’s special interests.