Jack Kelly: Kicking the Kochs

The Washington Post misleads its readers on the Keystone Pipeline

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The biggest lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries,” began a lengthy story in The Washington Post March 20.

“The finding about the Koch acreage is likely to inflame the already contentious debate about the Keystone XL Pipeline,” wrote Post reporters Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin.

Which was the purpose of a two- page “report” issued by the International Forum on Globalization, on which the Post story is based.

“IFG’s intention is to demonstrate the Koch-Keystone connection,” their source told them.

Which exists only in the feverish imagination of the left-wing group.

Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC holds leases on 1.1 million acres, “an area nearly the size of Delaware,” Mr. Mufson and Ms. Eilperin inform us. The tar sands comprise 35 million acres. Koch leases are less than 3 percent of that.

“Koch’s oil production in northern Alberta is ‘negligible,’ according to industry sources and quarterly publications of the provincial government,” the Post reporters acknowledge.

“Moreover, Koch has not reserved any space in the Keystone XL pipeline, a process that usually takes place before a pipeline is built. The pipeline also does not run anywhere near Koch refining facilities. And TransCanada, owner of the Keystone routes, says Koch is not expected to be one of the pipeline’s customers.”

Koch Industries would be harmed, not helped, if the pipeline is built.

Currently, tar sands oil is shipped primarily to the Midwest, where there is a surplus of supply, which permits Koch to buy crude for its refinery at Pine Bend, Minn., at favorable prices.

The Keystone XL Pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf coast. Koch industries would have to compete with refineries in Texas and Louisiana for Canadian crude. Prices would rise.

The IFG report features a chart which compares the Koch acreage with that leased by Conoco, Exxon and Chevron — big oil companies but minor players in the oil sands.

“The IFG folks apparently were too lazy to check on any other companies’ leaseholds,” said attorney John Hinderaker, who did.

He posted on his blog, Powerline, a Province of Alberta map indicating that Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is by far the largest leaseholder. Two other firms also may have larger holdings than Koch, the Post reporters acknowledged.

If the Koch brothers have nothing to do with the Keystone XL pipeline and nothing to gain from it, why write a 1,996-word story implying they do?

The Post story made no mention of hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, much of whose fortune has come from government subsidies for “green” energy projects, which the Keystone XL Pipeline threatens. Mr. Steyer has pledged to give Democrats $100 million — if they oppose the pipeline.

The story appeared as Democrats prepared to launch an ad campaign demonizing the Kochs, bete noire to liberals for their financial support of libertarian causes.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence that (Ms. Eilperin) is blowing the Koch brothers’ influence all out of proportion on a hot button environmental issue right as the Democratic Party is ramping up a multi-million-dollar ad campaign against them,” said Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard. “Maybe it’s also a coincidence that Tom Steyer sits on the board of the Center for American Progress where her husband works.”

Mr. Hinderaker doesn’t think so:

“The Washington Post published a false story about support for Keystone because it fit the Democratic Party’s agenda,” he said. “It covered up a similar but true story about opposition to the pipeline because that, too, fit the Democratic Party’s agenda.”

“The Powerline article itself, and its tone, is strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year,” responded Mr. Mufsin and Ms. Eilperin. “That’s why we wrote the piece.”

They justify their literally false and grossly misleading story “because the outrage their shoddy attack provoked proves the relevance of the Kochs,” said Jonah Goldberg of National Review.

“By this logic any unfair attack posing as reporting is worthwhile when people try to correct the record. Why not just … accuse the Kochs of killing JFK or hiding the Malaysian airplane?”

If Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post’s new owner, wants to run a newspaper rather than a Democrat propaganda sheet, he has some housecleaning to do.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette (jkelly@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1476).


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