Oh Henry! Oil

Posted October 20, 2011 | folder icon Print this page

When you are losing a debate, change the subject.  That is exactly what Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) tried to do Tuesday by sending a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) requesting that the committee investigate whether Koch Industries has any financial interest in the Keystone XL pipeline.  Rather than simply pointing out the absurdity of the accusations in the letter, Chairman Upton ought to expand Waxman’s request by delving into the interests being served by his no-pipeline approach.

As a long-time foe of the Keystone XL project (and just about anything else that involves the production or consumption of fossil energy), we appreciate Congressman Waxman’s tenacity.  But with this recent move, we are beginning to question his lucidity.  The Congressman, intentionally or not, has managed to conflate the notion of a generic interest in a project with the very specific interest that is evidenced by investing in, or buying products from, or selling products to a project.

A little clarity is in order.  Koch Industries is not invested in the Keystone XL pipeline project.  It is not a buyer from, a seller to, or a shipper associated with the project.  In fact, Koch already receives Canadian oil for one of their refineries and therefore enjoys a secure supply of Canadian oil, as opposed to oil from OPEC.  And it is OPEC and other countries like Brazil, not Koch Industries (and certainly not the environment), which stand to benefit if our neighbor to the north is denied additional access to U.S. markets.

Specifically, the Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills, indicated (in a three page filing consisting of an application form and two sentences found here) that it has a generic (rather than a specific or fiduciary) interest in the Keystone project. Their application was to reserve a spot to testify before National Energy Board of Canada.  But the application is self-explanatory:  “At this time, Flint Hills does not anticipate taking an active role in this hearing. However, Flint Hills reserves the right to appear at the public hearing and to address the issues set out in the hearing order as well as any issues that may arise in the course of the proceeding. This includes the right to participate in the oral hearing through cross examination of other parties, introduction of evidence and presentation of argument.”  In other words, “in the event that your public hearings disclose some information which we do not foresee which may affect our businesses, we ask to be given the right to present information.” This is hardly page-one stuff, not even for the New York Times.

Using Congressman Waxman’s logic for a moment, it is worth further exploring what his interest, specific or generic, in blocking the pipeline is.  Is it because of his interest in the success of Keystone foe Center for American Progress (CAP), a George Soros-funded group headed by John Podesta, former head of transition for the Obama Administration?  CAP was where Van Jones green jobs Czar went after leaving the White House.  Ditto for Energy and Climate Czar Carol Browner and many others, including Mr. Podesta and some of the characters involved in the Solyndra loan scandal.  Congressman Waxman is very aware of the revolving door between the White House and CAP because his former Chief of Staff is the Assistant to the President and Special Advisor at the White House.

These interests may also explain why, when Congressman Waxman and soul mate Rep. Ed Markey, were pushing their “cap and tax” bill supported by the White House, CAP was one of their biggest cheerleaders.

If Mr. Waxman wants an investigation about financial interests in the Keystone XL pipeline, we wonder if he would mind expanding his investigation to determine who would benefit financially from the Keystone XL pipeline not being built?  Or the 20,000 construction jobs not created?  Could it be Brazil, whose oil company has been getting a lot of help from Washington?

Congressman Waxman, setting aside his proclivity for nonsensical policies, is no idiot.  Surely he knows the difference between a specific and generic interest.  With his latest attack on Koch Industries, the gentleman from Beverly Hills deserves an A for attempting to obfuscate this difference, but an F for his command of the subject matter.

Author:
Tom Pyle