Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Walker to fill Koch brothers' sandbox in WI

The Benedict Arnold Koch brothers spent a lot of money propping up Job-killer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during his recall election last year. Now the governor is returning the favor.

Walker wants to use the state's limited budget dollars to invest in the state's sand industry. Why? Because Wisconsin's sand is a key component in the natural gas extraction process known as fracking. And guess what two ultra-rich brothers are sinking some of their sizeable wealth in fracking? Yeah, you know.

As detailed in the Capital Times:
Wisconsin, along with neighboring Minnesota, has some of the best frac sand in the continent, and Koch Industries is heavily invested in natural gas extraction using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
The type of silica sand found in Wisconsin is mixed with water and chemicals, then injected at high-pressure into bedrock to help bring natural gas deposits to the surface.
This proposed legislative gift is just the latest example of how the Kochs are using their dollars to help bend the state to their own purposes. Besides funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), politicians and a number of state stink tanks, they are rumored to be suitors for the Tribune Company, which includes the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

The Kochs claim to be "libertarians," while they are really corporate predators. As Middle Class Political Economist points out recently, they've accepted at least $73.1 million in government handouts over the last six years:
Flagship Koch Industries has taken over $16.5 million in subsidies from 11 different awards, none of which are sales tax breaks (which generally are not subsidies). 
Subsidiary Georgia Pacific has received 72 subsidies worth over $43.9 million (none of these were sales tax breaks). 
Subsidiary Flint Hills Resources LP has received subsidies from Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and Michigan, according to the Good Jobs First Subsidy Tracker; the New York Timessubsidy database, which omits Michigan but includes one more Iowa subsidy, puts the value of the Iowa and Kansas subsidies alone at just over $12.5 million (again, none of which were sales tax breaks). 
Subsidiary INVISTA has received $217,504 in training grants from South Carolina, according to Subsidy Tracker. Several other subsidies appear to be connected to this subsidiary, but none have available subsidy amounts. Again, none were sales tax breaks.
Meanwhile, Gov. Walker has other reasons for crafting a budget that provides help to the sand industry. This includes freight rail line upgrades and new positions at the Department of Natural Resources to oversee development of new sand mines. Gov. Walker has received the most gas and sand money of any state politician, accepting $520,266, according to the Democracy Campaign report.

Wisconsin, it's time to put your foot down and tell Gov. Walker to stop playing in the Koch brothers' sandbox. Contact your state lawmakers and tell them to oppose expansion of the Department of Natural Resources to benefit sand companies.