Thursday, the Washington Post published a piece titled "The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers."
Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker dismantled the Post article brick by brick. The blog contains maps and graphs of the leaseholders involved, showing that Koch Industries owns leases worth less than three percent of the total. The number of leases Koch Industries holds has declined to 1.1 million acres from 2 million last year. The Post's entire report is sourced from a two-page document produced by the far-left International Forum on Globalization, which was then reproduced on the website "kochcash.org." When the same organization wrote about Keystone XL last year, Powerline noted at the time the International Forum on Globalization concluded that construction of the pipeline could cost Koch $120 billion over 50 years:
Using our modest estimate that KXL will prevent on average a $20 discount to the price of a barrel of tar sands crude, FHR’s [Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary] Pine Bend refinery will miss out on $120 billion in profit ($20 x 6 billion barrels = $120 billion).
This report and the organization that produced it don't seem credible, and that's being charitable. So why is this misleading info being pushed out there? It could be just incompetence and/or media bias, but there are a couple of other things worth considering. One, Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place with their donors on the Keystone XL pipeline. And two, with Obamacare cratering, a sluggish economy, and the possibility of a wave election shaping up, Democrats can't run on their records. So they are already gearing up to run against the Koch brothers as an external threat that is buying the GOP -- the same playbook they used in 2010 when Democrats tried a ridiculous campaign to make the Chamber of Commerce out to be pulling Republican strings and using foreign money to buy elections.
Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas, has become a cause célèbre among radical environmentalists. Anything that could help them tie it to the Koch brothers who have been made out to be left-wing bogeyman is politically helpful to motivating the broader Democratic base to oppose the pipeline, since Democrats have spent the last several years claiming the Tea Party is a Koch conspiracy.
The problem is that the Democrats biggest campaign donors want the pipeline built as it would create tens of thousands of union jobs. Just before the 2012 election, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka told me he thought that the pipeline would be built in Obama's second term. Given that unions spent $4.4 billion on politics between 2005 and 2011 -- nearly all of which went to Democrats -- they certainly feel they are owed. But now that Obama's in his second term and doesn't need the money, he's not as forthcoming with the union favors regarding Keystone XL, Obamacare, and a host of other union wishes. Unions have been pretty open about their frustration with Democrats and how it may affect their political donations and turnout efforts.