Koch brothers bring climate change politics to Alberta, say watchdogs


by Elizabeth McSheffrey, National Observer

It’s a well-known fact that Charles and David Koch — owners of the second-largest private company in America — have been funding climate change denial in the U.S. for decades.

Since the late nineties, the billionaire brothers have funneled more than US$88 million into groups that seed doubt on climate change science, and hundreds of millions more helping Republicans who supported the Keystone XL pipeline win control of the Senate in 2014.

But a recent development in the heart of Canada’s oilsands has watchdogs accusing Koch Industries of pulling political stunts north of the border. Their new target appears to be Alberta, where Premier Rachel Notley’s carbon tax kicked off in full swing at the beginning of 2017.

Koch Oilsands Operating ULC, one of the corporation’s seven Canadian subsidiaries, recently cancelled an oil recovery project in the Prairie province, citing the Alberta government’s ‘Climate Leadership Plan’ as a driving factor. But two days later, it applied for a new oilsands lease that would be subject to the same “economic and regulatory uncertainty.”

Andrew Read, a senior analyst at the Pembina Institute in Edmonton, characterized the move as “a political maneuver to undermine the climate policies being implemented in Alberta,” after numbers crunched by a local economist revealed that the Climate Leadership Plan — and its carbon tax — would have barely affected the oilsands project at all.

Koch slams Alberta climate plan

On Wed. Dec. 14, 2016, as legislators and businesses wound down for the holidays, Byron Lutes, vice-president of business development at Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC, wrote a letter to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC applied to cancel its $800-million Muskwa SAGD oilsands project in northern Alberta, citing Notley’s ‘Climate Leadership Plan’ as a major reason. It was the company’s second project withdrawal last year; the Dunkirk SAGD project north of Fort McMurray, Alta. was cancelled in March. READ MORE


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