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Koch brother spent $5 million killing green energy project because it’ll interrupt his ocean view

Oct 23, 2013

As if the Koch family didn’t get its fair share of evil with the brothers David and Charles, scions of the Koch Industries fortune who have made a name for themselves spending relentlessly to back far-right political causes, the New York Times has a revealing new expose about Bill Koch, the less-visible brother who has spent upwards of $5 million dollars blocking a major green energy initiative because it’ll disturb the ocean view from his “family compound” on Nantucket.

Bill Koch is the most outspoken and deeply invested opponent of the Cape Wind project, a plan for an offshore wind farm that would supply green energy “reliably to ‘the fastest-growing electric load demand center in New England,’” developer Jim Gordon tells the New York Times. Gordon has spent $70 million personally developing the project over the last 12 years, but has been stymied by Koch, who has spent $5 million and more than a decade suing Cape Wind to keep the $2.6 billion project from moving forward.

“I love the area,” Mr. Koch told the Times. “The ability to acquire a special property where I can create a family compound for my children and extended family was and is very meaningful to me.”

And he has created a hell of a compound—after owning a complex for years he’s just acquired a 26-acre beachfront property in a gated community for $19.5 million as well as a nearby 12-acre former Dupont estate.

But don’t start thinking this this is all as petty as disturbing the ocean view from his compound. Surely he wouldn’t derail a green energy boon for the entire state over a personal aesthetic quibble. Oh no—he actually wants to kill green energy as well.

Koch’s political donations have been aimed at electing candidates “who understand how foolhardy alternative energy is,” he said in April. Why? Because in addition to coming from the petroleum lineage of Koch Industries that his father founded, Koch founded Oxbow Corporation, which, according to BusinessWeek, “primarily engages in the mining and marketing of energy and commodities, such as coal, natural gas, petroleum.”

New York Times notes, “his political contributions are generally less ideological than those of his brothers and are focused chiefly on advancing his business interests.” He’s spent millions lobbying to deregulate environmental regulations that curb his potential for profit at the expense of the environment. Greenpeace notes the Koch brothers have spent over $67 million fighting green energy since 1997.

Like his brothers David and Charles, Bill is using a scare tactic: He’s arguing that Cape Wind will make electricity more expensive for the poor plebes of Massachusetts. Cape Wind has contracts with the state (assuming the project ever comes to fruition) of more than twice the rate the state just signed contracts with land-based wind energy farms based in neighboring states. But Cape Wind claims offshore wind is the most reliable and powerful source of renewable energy, and one imagines that in reality greater supply would tend to lower cost.

You almost have to admire the chutzpah of Bill Koch to be so overt about his mission to block what ultimately amounts to a tiny affront to his industry and his eye-line. He recently told CommonWealth magazine, “The environmentalists are already after me. I’ve had the Turkish government after me, I’ve had the I.R.S. after me and I’ve had a $50-billion-a-year corporation after me. I’ve had the Turkish mafia after me, so bring it on, baby.”

Source: NY Times
Image: Shutterstock

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