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Kochs' lease holdings in Alberta tar sands.
Since last October, when the Koch brothers' extensive holdings of Canadian tar sands acreage were noted here after publication of the International Forum on Globalization's report—Billionaires' Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline—the claims have received considerable attention, including denials from Koch Industries and attacks from right-wingers, including a prominent blog.

The IFG concluded that, based on public records, the Kochs held at least two million acres of leased tar sands land, more than any other company. Subsequently, additional research by the organization confirmed 1.1 million acres in Kochs' hands in Alberta, the most of any American or foreign corporation. That is more than 1,700 square miles. Vast by any definition. The map on the right shows the distribution of the confirmed holdings.

At The Washington Post nearly three weeks ago, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin wrote their own version of the story.

The Koch Industries subsidiary holds leases on 1.1 million acres—an area nearly the size of Delaware—in the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada, according to an activist group that studied Alberta provincial records. The Post confirmed the group’s findings with Alberta Energy, the provincial government’s ministry of energy. Separately, industry sources familiar with oil sands leases said Koch’s lease holdings could be closer to two million acres. The companies with the next biggest net acreage positions in oil sands leases are Conoco Phillips and Shell, both close behind.
The story generated considerable pushback, including several bits written by John Hinderaker at the torture-approving, climate change-denying blog Powerline. Among other things, he attached the all-purpose "far left" label to IFG, questioned Eilperin's objectivity and posed—in that slimy just-asking-a-simple-question technique—whether the Post had intentionally timed the article to coincide with "attacks" on the Koch brothers by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Sheldon Whitehouse. Other critics called for a retraction and an apology from the Post. They mouthed the Kochs' repeated claims that they have no interest in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

On Monday, Mufson wrote another piece on the subject, Does Koch Industries hold most Canadian oil sands leases? It’s complicated. He didn't rely on the IFG report this time, but on "data from the Alberta provincial energy department, corporations’ annual information forms, information from a mapping firm called GeoScout, data from a Calgary-based exploration services firm called Divestco Geomatics and interviews with industry analysts and executives."

What did he find? Determining acreage is, in fact, complicated. Why? Because the experts who measure such things don't come up with the same answers. The bottom line is that Koch Industries ranks as No. 3 or No. 4 in terms of all tar-sands lease holders, and No. 1 as a non-Canadian holder. Those leases cover at least 1.12 million acres and as many as 1.47 million acres. But even that total may not tell the whole story.

More on this below the fold.

Mufson writes:

The province of Alberta keeps track of designated representatives on oil-sands leases, but the list doesn’t indicate whether those representatives have partners who share the cost of purchase and development. It is a list of gross, not net, lease holdings. Net ownership could be higher (if a company holds a lot of minority positions in partnerships) or lower (if a designated representative brings in other partners to reduce development costs and spread risks).

Moreover, Canadian government and industry officials note that any company can establish a subsidiary identified only with a number, such as 12345Alberta, and the authoritative industry official says that Koch’s holdings far exceed the acreage listed by name with the Alberta provincial government. Other oil companies might be doing the same thing, adding another element of uncertainty.

This could, of course, be cleared up if privately held Koch Industries itself came forward and disclosed all its holdings. That will happen about the same time as they praise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As IFG points out:

The Kochs currently hold +1.1 million acres of tar sands land at the very least. They would certainly benefit from the building of the pipeline, though their tactic thus far is to be deceitful: Koch Industries doesn’t have an interest—does that mean that Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC does? They “aren’t currently a shipper”—but will they be after it’s built and bidding opens up?

The fact is that throughout the hearings and investigations into the Koch’s interest in KXL, Koch Industries has repeated that they have no interest in the pipeline, which is false. Being one of the largest land holders in the tar sands, providing money to pro-KXL congress people, spending millions funding groups who lobby for the pipeline, and by ignoring the most pointed criticisms in favor of reiterating falsehoods all point to a substantial interest in the pipeline.

Somebody is owed an apology all right.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 01:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Gulf Watchers Group, Climate Change SOS, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Aw, c'mon! (30+ / 0-)

     photo leavekochalone_zps901fa361.jpg

    I’ve said before, I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better. But the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay. -- President Barack Obama

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 01:52:10 PM PDT

  •  ZOMG they're acting in their own self-interests (14+ / 0-)

    and they're far from enlightened

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 01:54:09 PM PDT

  •  Not surprised, they have the best govt money can (20+ / 0-)


    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:03:26 PM PDT

    •  Evidently more than one government. n/t (4+ / 0-)

      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

      by Just Bob on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:42:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfair to Alberta (5+ / 0-)

        Since I work in land rights for minerals, allow a brief primer:

        When a government (or private entity) issues mineral and oil and gas rights, what we're concerned about is one thing: having someone who is legally responsible for that right. The deals they've cut behind the scenes for funding are, quite frankly, not our concern and in many cases not worth tracking because a property can get sold from party to party, each party retaining some royalty or partial ownership. Not to mention option agreements, or other forms of association or partnership. What we're concerned about is that there is someone who sends us the fees or other payments required and who is legally liable in the event there is some problem.

        Example: many junior mineral exploration company are funded by a major. The junior finds a potential deposit, they offer it to a major. They might have a deal like this: if the major (call it Major-A) provides $10 million in funding over X years, Major-A will acquire a 49% stake in the project. If they provide an additional $10 million, they might get 75% of the project with an option to buy the remaining 25%. If they don't fund to the designated levels, they're out. Meanwhile Major-A may be cutting a deal with another company (Major-B) where they sell the right to participate in the first project for certain minerals in exchange for an equivalent holding in another property for different minerals that Major-B holds.

        ("Hey, we're a gold company, you're into iron. How about we offer you the iron rights, if anything is there, for this property we have an interest in in exchange for us having the rights to gold on that property you're holding?")

        We don't care about any of that: as far as we're concerned, it's the junior exploration company who holds the property and is held responsible for it.

        This information is typically public, but not on our books (or reflected in our databases) because we're only concerned with who the present holder of the right is, not who potentially might be the holder if certain conditions are met at some point in the future.

        Further, there might not be any ownership position at all. "We'll pay for your exploration program in exchange for a 1.5% net smelter royalty." There's no ownership involved in a deal like that. Or they might sell the property in exchange for that royalty. Or they might retain a 5% ownership position instead. Or... well, you should get the picture.

        This isn't incidentally, all rainbows and lollipops for the majors behind the scenes. If the junior screws up, since they're the ones responsible, the major(s) funding them might suddenly come across a situation where the junior loses the right and they're left hung out to dry. I've been one situation where this happened: a junior had not met the requirements they were supposed to for holding the right (for whatever reason) and I received a panicked call from the major asking what could be done to keep the right active, and there was nothing they could do. So the right lapsed, and the major was out a few million that they'd pumped into the project.

        •  You've put some effort into a misconception, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, Creosote, Albanius

          but I still do appreciate it.

          The problem is at a higher level. Is Canada committed to limiting global warming?

          Canada is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. However, the Liberal government that later signed the accord took little action towards meeting Canada's greenhouse gas emission targets. Although Canada committed itself to a 6% reduction below the 1990 levels for the 2008-2012 as a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the country did not implement a plan to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Soon after the 2006 federal election, the new minority government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada could and would not meet Canada's commitments. The House of Commons passed several opposition-sponsored bills calling for government plans for the implementation of emission reduction measures.

          Canadian and North American environmental groups feel that Canada lacks credibility on environmental policy and regularly criticizes Canada in international venues. In the last few months of 2009, Canada's attitude was criticized at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) conference,[5] at the Commonwealth summit,[6] and the Copenhagen conference.[7]

          In 2011, Canada, Japan and Russia stated that they would not take on further Kyoto targets.[8] The Canadian government invoked Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on 12 December 2011.[9] Canada was committed to cutting its greenhouse emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, but in 2009 emissions were 17% higher than in 1990. Environment minister Peter Kent cited Canada's liability to "enormous financial penalties" under the treaty unless it withdrew.[8][10] He also suggested that the recently signed Durban agreement may provide an alternative way forward.[11] Canada's decision was strongly criticised by representatives of other ratifying countries, including France and China.

          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

          by Just Bob on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 05:43:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmm, let me see... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Beelzebubs Brass Bs

            On the one hand we have someone, me, who has explicitly stated how resource rights work in Canada and why it's entirely understandable why the information about who has an interest in what might not be available from a government source and why.

            On the other hand we have someone, you, who has accused me of creating a misconception and then did not bother to share with the class what the misconception is and instead posted something that has fuck all to do with what I was talking about.

            I made no comment about whether I agreed with the tar sands or not. I made no comment about the Kochs. I simply informed people why I thought the implied comment about buying the Alberta government was unfair, and why. If you have something that contradicts what I said that's actually relevant, I await with bated breath.

            •  Just to be clear... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              You want to argue that the oil industry has too much political influence in the province, I won't argue with you. You want to argue the tar sands are, overall, bad, I'm not going to argue with you. You want to argue the Kochs are scumbags, I'm right there with you. You want to blame the fact it's hard know how much the Koch's might be invested in in Alberta and blame that on political influence, in that case you are very wrong.


              •  Just to be clear... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                a2nite said, "Not surprised, they have the best govt money can buy."

                I said, "Evidently more than one government."

                Then you made certain assumptions regarding which governments and issues I had in mind.

                The governments I have in mind are the Canadian and US governments. The issue I have in mind is climate change.

                If you wish to restrict the discussion to arcane points of mineral rights, I'm not interested. I am interested in the information I quoted from Wikipedia.

                Really? A 17% increase rather than a decrease in emissions?

                Good night.

                I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                by Just Bob on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:56:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  How old are these guys anyway? (11+ / 0-)

    If they get called home, there will be significantly less evil in the world.

  •  Remember Science Says the Monetary Value of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Rogneid, telebob1, Eric Nelson

    those resources to the company and its investors needs to be ZERO.

    --A minimum, but nowhere near sufficient step for addressing climate change.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:11:43 PM PDT

    •  petrochemical science maybe; where the .. (0+ / 0-)

      ..calculation for the bottom line profit margin is the most important variable

      Extraction industries are doing us all a favor,,why should they have to pay royalties just because it is a resource extracted from the public space? - that is how they act in the legislation they push

      That seems to be the attitude of all of these petrochemical extraction tycoons - that they really should/ actually do own everything and pay nothing at either end of production (or taxes) - especially the clean-up after exhaustion of the resource

      And yes:  

      ..nowhere near sufficient step for addressing climate change.
      The mess and environmental impact doesn't enter the extractors calculus on the real costs
  •  Keystone XL will make the Koch brothers ... (12+ / 0-)

    an even more powerful political force in American politics. An accommodating SCOTUS and Congress, along with even more cash in Koch hands from this pipeline project, will take our democracy to new lows.

    I forget your question, but that's my answer.

    by glb3 on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:18:12 PM PDT

  •  If their offspring is like them (7+ / 0-)

    another generation of evil will follow even if they kick the bucket but they won't.. They would sell or bargain the bucket and try to rule God.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:24:07 PM PDT

  •  Just da woist. (6+ / 0-)

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:45:37 PM PDT

  •  History is made at night (10+ / 0-)

    Character is who you are in the dark.

    The Kochs sure love them some darkness.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:49:40 PM PDT

    •  Emilio Lizardo and brother /nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, xaxnar

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

      by annieli on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:52:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On that note. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Meteor Blades, Albanius

      I think when people look at that map of Alberta, they think of it as a "rural area".  
      But No, Mountain Top Removal in the central Appalachians is in a "rural area"...and there, even where there are public roads and fly-overs and folks downstream, the extractors basically shit on the land and the people.
      Here's a little experiment, go to Google maps (or equivalent) and get directions for most direct route from Fort St John BC to Fort McMurray BC.    Notice anything?
      those oil fields are "in the dark" The area of extraction there is a vast area where the only access is going to be infrastructure built on the extractors terms.  There is nothing in the history of mineral extraction that would lead any reasonable person to belief the extractors are not going to shit all over that darkness.

      •  Yep. See, to give just one example,... (0+ / 0-)

        ...what happened with Texaco in Ecuador, where indigenous people in the way of Big Oil lived but waaaay off the grid.  

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:48:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So? Dick Cheney owned Halliburton... (0+ / 0-)

    and they still awarded lucrative contracts to them and they never suffered.

    Same thing with Koch.

    Best thing to do is pass a law making the Pipeline owners liable for any environmental damage that happens. No more passing the cost to the EPA.

  •  WOW excellent diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

       NOW the shit hits the sands!

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:42:20 PM PDT

  •  Yes an apology, and it's not owed to.. (6+ / 0-)

    ..Hinderaker who claims: Benghazi  Solyndra!!

    The Washington Post Responds To Me, and I Reply to the Post - March 22, 2014

    Let me offer an alternative explanation of why the Washington Post published their Keystone/Koch smear:

     1) The Washington Post in general, and Mufson and Eilperin in particular, are agents of the Left, the environmental movement and the Democratic Party.

    ooh.. agents of the left...plotting for a clean environment
    2) The Keystone Pipeline is a problem for the Democratic Party because 60% of voters want the pipeline built, while the party’s left-wing base insists that it not be approved. and Dems are against Keystone pipeline
    3) The Keystone Pipeline is popular because it would broadly benefit the American people by creating large numbers of jobs, making gasoline more plentiful and bringing down the cost of energy.
    Another debunked lie - 35  permanent jobs
    4) Therefore, the Democratic Party tries to distract from the real issues surrounding the pipeline by claiming, falsely, that its proponents are merely tools of the billionaire Koch brothers–who, in fact, have nothing to do with Keystone one way or the other.
    Benghazi! - lol - in fact the vast majority of Americans; Want TransCanada to Testify Under Oath Where Keystone XL Tar Sands Will Be Sold
    5) The Post published its article to assist the Democratic Party with its anti-Keystone talking points.
    ..that's it Hinderaker? that WaPo is reporting the truth as established?

    Solyndra!!! :

    Which frames a very interesting contrast. The Keystone Pipeline is by no means the only energy-related controversy these days. “Green” energy is also highly controversial. “Green” energy is controversial, in part, because, unlike the Keystone Pipeline, it harms the consumer: solar and wind energy are inefficient, and therefore raise energy costs to consumers. “Green” energy is also controversial because it harms taxpayers: because they are inefficient, solar and wind energy can survive only through taxpayer-funded subsidies. Further, the federal government has invested in numerous “green” energy projects that have gone bankrupt, sticking taxpayers with the tab. Solyndra is only one of a number of such debacles.
    Thx MB

    - for the thorough Koch debunking

    •  I see assrocket hasn't gotten more honest (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, Eric Nelson

      over the years. Glad I quit reading powerline. That guy wouldn't know the truth if it hit him on the head.

      "It must be very strange to be john hinderacker. A man of extraordinary delusion and bullshit approaching to Pinocchioean levels, he can't ever tell the truth. He is like a great painter or musician who turns lying into an art form, and who farts out one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is full of mockery."

      A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

      by dougymi on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 09:17:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many people think it's a strictly Canadian ecocide (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But almost all the oil barons in the world are involved.

    To thine ownself be true

    by Agathena on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:53:45 PM PDT

  •  When we finally storm their gated mansions... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    ...we should make them eat some of their stuff.

    Tar sands photo TarSands-600_zps8d4a4392.jpg

    (/snark ?)

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 03:57:19 PM PDT

  •  Quit picking on the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson, Shockwave

    Koch brothers! We all know they have all this acreage leased to PREVENT the exploitation of the tar sands. As long as they have the leases no one can dig.
    Damn, I just wrote the talking points for Fox and Friends/Billo/Hannity/Beck/Gregory/Todd/GOP. That's what they'll be spewing if this info gets legs....

    6% of scientists are republican. Scientists have no explanation why that number is so high.

    by fugwb on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 04:07:35 PM PDT

  •  The Koch Brothers - The Poster Boys Of Everything (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, laurnj

    Wrong In This Country.

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 08:17:51 PM PDT

  •  Certainly there is proof, however, the push for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Keystone XL pipeline alone has their virtual fingerprints all over it.  The classic "big oil" and classic lobbying, while grimy and down and dirty and powerful, was never this intense and to this degree.  The relentless and heartless push for this shit - to this degree - is their M.O.

    Why aren't they proud of what they do?  Aren't they job creators and owners of corporations?  Why the shame-filled deceit?

    Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

    by Floyd Blue on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 06:35:39 AM PDT

  •  More details on koch's oil sands holdings (0+ / 0-)

    They've bought most of their oil sands leases in the peace river region, surrounding a small oil sands stock  named Strata Oil which Shell surrounds the same area to the south. This article was posted giving more details on the koch oil sands as well. Their land position is certainly very large, but from what I can tell they haven't done much with it yet.

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