The Other Koch Brother

In the shadow of his brothers' Tea Party fame, Bill Koch seems almost like a normal billionaire.

Goldstein, the spokesman for Bill Koch, denies that the settlement was arranged to get Angela to drop the charges. Throughout the divorce proceedings, Koch maintained that he never hit his wife. "An absolute fiction of her imagination. Never happened," Goldstein says. (Angela, who is remarried and lives in West Palm Beach, did not respond to requests for comment.)

As his romantic roller-coaster ride continued, Bill Koch lost most of his lawsuits against his brothers. "He was devastated," Angela Koch told the New York Post. "It was something he could not get over—it just ate him up." Meanwhile, his business goals began to shift.

Around 2000, Oxbow sold its geothermal power plants. Goldstein says the corporate execs sensed that the federal subsidies were going to disappear, and that the industry would no longer be stable. So the company that once prided itself on producing green energy switched its focus to fossil fuels—mining natural gas and coal, and becoming the world's largest marketer of petroleum coke, a by-product of oil refining that emits high levels of sulfur and carbon dioxide when burned.

Oxbow bought the Elk Creek Mine in Gunnison County, Colorado, west of Aspen. It soon hired more than 300 people, most of whom climb under the earth every day, breathing in soot and methane gas, to retrieve black chunks of fuel.

Oxbow provides healthy paychecks in a rural mountain region where job options are limited. Goldstein says the company has donated money to the local hospitals, high school, Little League fields, and the library. In return, the residents tolerate the inherent perils of working for a coal company.

In the past 11 years, two of the three coal-mining deaths in Colorado occurred at Oxbow's mine. In one incident, a wire screen fell on a 26-year-old worker, pinning him to a machine. In another, a high-pressure hydraulic hose broke and went flying, hitting a 37-year-old in the head. In the past year, federal records indicate, the Elk Creek mine has been cited 66 times for "significant and substantial" safety violations—the kind that can reasonably result in serious injury or death.

Goldstein calls the deaths "a tragedy" but says the mine's safety record is "quite good" and contends that the accident rate is "lower than the national average."

This May, Oxbow announced it was expanding its coal exploration efforts in neighboring Delta County. "Coal is never gonna go away," Goldstein says. "It's not in fashion these days. [But] the majority of our energy in the states comes from coal."

In July, an Oxbow subsidiary received permission to build water pits to support its gas operations in Gunnison County, despite worries from environmentalists that the wells could leak and pollute the water supply.

Koch has also angered some nearby residents by trying to gain control of a large swath of federal land that provides access to a national forest. The 1,800 contested acres sit between Koch's two ranches, and he wants to connect them. He's tired of people trespassing, parking near his ranch, and poaching the elk that roam there, Goldstein says.

Last year, Koch tried to arrange a deal, through federal legislation, that would allow him to take over the land in exchange for giving the government roughly 1,000 acres near other federal parks. U.S. Representative John Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, sponsored the land-swap legislation in Congress. But after the press revealed that Oxbow was Salazar's biggest campaign donor, and the public protested the deal, the bill stalled and Salazar lost his seat in Congress. Goldstein says Koch is currently working to revise the plan, addressing concerns about access to the forestland.

But Ed Marston, a former newspaper publisher in the area who was a vocal opponent of the land swap, says the deal demonstrates how selfish Koch can be. "This is for the benefit of one man, and it locks out, at present, hundreds of users," says Marston.

Goldstein contends that Marston has been butting heads with Oxbow for 11 years and says the forest road he is trying to protect "gets very little use."

As his business in Colorado prospered, Koch took on a different energy battle in Massachusetts. In 2001, in Cape Cod, where Koch has a summer mansion, a private developer proposed building the nation's first offshore wind farm. One hundred and thirty wind turbines, 440 feet high, would rise in Nantucket Sound. The developer claimed this clean energy source would produce 75 percent of the energy needed to power the Cape and nearby islands.

But Koch, the award-winning sailor, was loath to let windmills sully his view. Plus, he didn't think the project was financially viable. Goldstein says higher energy costs would be passed on to consumers and calls the farm "a boondoggle." Koch joined other high-profile opponents such as Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney in a contentious battle that stretched on for nine years. He spent $1.5 million funding an opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, for which he also served as chairman of the board.

Last year, Cape Wind finally got the federal approvals needed to move forward with the project. Mark Rodgers, the project spokesman, says Koch's vigorous opposition was tied to his pocketbook—namely, his business interests in coal and oil.

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20 comments
tcatjohnson
tcatjohnson

Sounds like all three Koch brothers need a visit from the Red Brigades. 

tcatjohnson
tcatjohnson

Sounds like pretty much the same flavor of asshole to me...

Rich
Rich

"he's not his brother's keeper" says his spokesman. pretty much sums up the koch brothers' philosophy of life.

Rhonda Mike
Rhonda Mike

I personally do not think it told of the bad things they all do, but they all DO have good points too.... I seem to like the "black sheep" of the family Bill best..(perhaps I can relate) They are an interesting family..... I pray that their eyes will be opened and see the need to pay tax ......Everyone needs health care... everyone needs a job that pays enough to go back and forth. The unions are needed, as they help to make things better for employees etc....We do need free schools and colleges for ALL who chose to go...

Emilio Lizardo
Emilio Lizardo

You want to know how 400 families own as much of American assets as the poorest 150 million Americans, they manipulated the government to help transfer that wealth.

The direct consequence is that overall demand has dropped through the floor. We've just recreated the great depression.

LadyKisha
LadyKisha

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my girl-friend loves her Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, BidsBit.com

keiraKnightly
keiraKnightly

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my girl-friend loves her Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, BidsBit.com

Tommy Tank
Tommy Tank

Perhaps the reporter might have contacted some of the actual people who opposed the sweetheart land deal, that would close public access and which was specifically kept public to provide such.

Or looked into the lies and slander being published in ads weekly by an astroturf group run out of a Denver law firm?

One-sided fluff piece. Disappointing

Barack
Barack

"know that your most worthy of efforts will be scorned by your peers for it is they who suffer when you excel. Should your actions and ambitions threaten them not, you are simply striving towards the insignificant."

We are all born into this world and must make tough decisions. I think protesting Sci-Fi wind farms off the coast of Mass. is a good protest. Too often we here of these grand ideas to save the planet. I would like to track how much the public will pay for these fans and how much the government will receive as their kick back. Fans off the coast of Mass. saving the planet is like building a sling shot on the coast of California to fly people to China without burning fuel. What a joke.

And how many people die every year in Massachusetts building Large Fans? I hope no more than two. This just in: Digging for coal is dangerous. It's not for everyone. Maybe we should stop using coal as a society for a year and see how many lives are saved. From my understanding, coal miners continue showing up for work every morning knowing what the dangers are.

Why do media outlets and activists want to make the public feel as though they are victims and Billionaire's responsible for a sliver of American independence from foreign energy suppliers are the villains? I'm lost. The facts are in and our neighbors to the South are prospering because of the tax cuts given to big businesses choosing to relocate and this is how we speak of the ones trying to keep their business here in our Country? So strange.

jenniferLy
jenniferLy

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

orwellsworstnightmare
orwellsworstnightmare

He is much less offensive than his brothers, David H. and Charles T. Koch. Compared to them, he is almost a class act. He is, however, still a Koch.

Nancy Bulger
Nancy Bulger

It's unfortunate that Bill Koch had a difficult childhood. Many of us would also like to discuss ours, but moreso, we are trying to live well now, and not at the expense of polluters who would sacrifice our best interest to their fortune. Cape Wind is not the toy protest of Bill Koch, nor should their spokesman or the goal of their renewable energy project receive any less credit than Bill's donations to various causes, which in no way make up for the deaths by coal emissions that his huge industry causes. Bill should turn his various donations and do-good philanthopy into investment in technologies like offshore wind. This would be a great way to make up for a past. Maybe all his ex-wives and girlfriends would like him better too.

Zero Emissions
Zero Emissions

Why doesn't Bill Koch fund some pump out stations in every Nantucket Sound port to stop the raw sewerage from ferry boats and recreational boaters from fouling it? There are 3 million ferry passengers using the Sound yearly and 5 million private boaters. I live on Nantucket Island and think about pollution every time I jump in the water. Yuk! Wind turbines are pollution free and don't use water or any fossil fuels during operation. Just think of all the fish larve that are killed every year at the Mirant Power Station on the Cape Cod Canal by the plant's cooling system. Cape Wind is going to happen: it is just a question of time. No power plant in our nation's history has ever been more closely reviewed. The stack of paper is literally about 9 feet tall! I can't wait to sail amongst those graceful giants on a boat and marvel at them.

Clean Air Lover
Clean Air Lover

Koch has donated far more than the 1.5 million to the opposition group to Cape Wind reported in this article and he used his dirty energy company, Oxbow, to funnel nearly one million in lobbying expenses against Cape Wind, he also directly pays the salary of the opposition group's CEO according to their Form 990 filed with the IRS.

tomdurk
tomdurk

So is it good that he is not quite as slimy as his brothers? It is good that his astroturf party is not the Tea Party. But a 42,000 foot house? Taking 18,999 acres of federal property for a private ranch? He also inherited billions, continues to pollute in his oil & coke industries (with huge externalities), and has thrown significant money into starting a highly litigious astroturf group (The Alliance to Protect Our View) fighting against Cape Wind.

Womanphoenix
Womanphoenix

"One-sided fluff piece"? You must think that domestic-abuse allegations (or dumping renewables for coal) reflect well on a man.

Palin
Palin

Sorry, dude, but Cape Wind's going to do just.fine: http://www.renewableenergyworl...

In fact, the only thing its well-heeled NIMBY foes can say about it now is that it won't be the first US offshore wind project -- that honor may well go to a Texas project that is being pushed to completion, spurred on by Cape Wind's success over the billionaire oil trustafarians and old-money dynasties that opposed it.

Emilio Lizardo
Emilio Lizardo

Domestic abuse allegations are a staple of divorce. In this case worth 16 mil. 70% of domestic abuse is initiated by the woman. And it's mom that's most likely to harm the kids. DV is a scam issue.

Yea, it's a fluff piece, but hey, it's the 'Voice'.

 
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