New maps of tar sands assets in Alberta, Canada released today by the International Forum on Globalization, clarify connections between the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the Koch Brothers, the two top donors to the Republican Party who have made fast-tracking the pipeline the top priority for Congress.
Visualized data from online sources that track leases in the tar sands territory show that the Koch brothers (who have more money together that any single person on the planet) hold close to two million acres in Alberta, making Koch the largest US leaseholder with almost as many carbon assets at stake than Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco’s combined.
Energy investors consider Keystone XL to be essential infrastructure for profitably exploiting the tar sands, which scientists say must stay mostly in the ground buried as carbon instead of being burned in our atmosphere if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Charles and David Koch’s political influence network outspent all other oil companies and individual donors in 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections, filling Congress with pro-Keystone candidates. Having now outspent both parties combined, Koch’s recent announcement that they will spend another one billion on 2016 elections can unduly influence candidates even more.
Together with today’s failed attempt by Keystone advocates to override President Obama’s veto of the proposed pipeline, the maps make clear that Republicans prioritize their top donors’ boondoggles over life itself. Keystone XL’s failure could leave Koch with a family fortune of “stranded assets” in Alberta, a lost fifty-year bet on Canadian crude for the world’s biggest billionaires that would be a boon for our rapidly warming Earth.