Koch Brothers Enterprises Made Katrina's Damage to Gulf Coast Worse

Illustration for article titled Koch Brothers Enterprises Made Katrinas Damage to Gulf Coast Worse

Charles and David Koch, whose combination of right-wing extremism and endless income makes them two of America’s Most Notorious Thugs, are the subjects of a new retrospective that highlights how their construction and pipelines before Katrina, and their aggressive lobbying after it, helped worsen the damage to the Gulf Coast region, both environmentally and socially.

Ten Years Later: A Look Back on the Koch Brothers & Hurricane Katrina,” published by the Bridge Project, enumerates the ways Koch’s business and moral interests interfered with the recovery from Katrina as well as making the Gulf Coast vulnerable in the first place. The report begins by asserting:

The simple truth is that Koch Industries operates with a philosophy of putting its business interest ahead of local interests, and this report examines how that philosophy unfolded for the people hurt by Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, Koch Industries was accused of decades of negligence resulting in destroyed wetlands from pipeline dredging, which allegedly compounded the effects of Hurricane Katrina on Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before the hurricane made landfall, the Kochs saw opportunity to profit from a vulnerable population in need of scarce resources, calling it “the right market to restart operations” at their newly-acquired Georgia-Pacific facilities in the region. After the hurricane, Koch Industries immediately went to work taking advantage of the situation, participating in a subsidized federal bond program, and it was even investigated for price gouging during a time of crisis; though the FTC found in their favor, Congress was highly critical of the FTC’s investigation.


The timing of the report coincides not just with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but also to counter the PR events the Kochs are sponsoring in order to “put forward a softer side,” as the Bridge puts it. These include sponsoring a Katrina-related National Press Club lunch and the Louisiana State Society’s “Volunteer Opportunity: Katrina +10.”

But it also evokes the class-action suit brought against the Kochs that asserted Koch pipelines around Baton Rouge decimated wetlands around the city, eroding the natural protection against hurricanes and other storms. (The suit was dismissed on technicalities of causation, but the judge on the case admitted coastal erosion was a “serious problem” and asserted that “a more focused, less ambitious lawsuit” could potentially have a win.

The report details a probe into the price gouging of gasoline by a Koch-owned oil company. (No evidence was found by the FTC, but a coalition of Senators led by Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Spector disagreed with the decision.) It also discusses the ways other Koch holdings profited off Katrina bond programs and used them to restart flagging operations and lobbied against legislation that would ease piquing insurance costs on average homeowners.

Just another fun little report from the frontlines of the Koch Boys, America’s Most Notorious Thugs!


Contact the author at julianne@jezebel.com.

Image via AP

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