Is $100 billion "big" money? Maybe it is to you and me. I suspect it is even to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. But the flacks at Koch Industries are trying to convince members of the media that a company with those kinds of revenues should not be saddled with the adjective "big" -- as in Big Oil. They've even produced a video making this argument. According to "a Koch Industries representative who didn't wish to be identified by name" and who was quoted in Politico, "when people think about quote-unquote Big Oil, they think about big, integrated oil companies."
Exactly what "people think about" when they think about anything is a mystery to me, but presumably facts are facts. Nevertheless, both FactCheck.org and the Washington Post's fact-checker column -- two allegedly nonpartisan, nonideological operations in the business of checking "facts" -- have taken up the cause of the relative puniness of this $100 billion mom-and-pop oil company.
The argument appears to be based on the belief that because the massive Koch Industries comprises so much more than its oil interests, it's not fair to use the word "big" followed by "oil." Their evidence: the fact that other oil companies are larger than the parts of Koch Industries devoted to oil. For instance, ExxonMobil happens to be, by most measurements, the world's largest global corporation, so when compared to the largest companies on the planet, $100 billion is mere chump change.
To these arguments, my friends at the Center for American Progress Action Fund's ThinkProgress blog added some useful facts that might bear on this decision. Allow me to borrow just a few highlights:
- The Koch Political Action Committee is the largest oil-and-gas contributor--donating more than even ExxonMobil and spending more than1 million in each of the past two election cycles. This cycle, it has spent almost750,000.
- Koch Industries is the fourth-largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, spending2.3 million so far in 2012 and more than8 million in 2011.
- Koch Industries emits more than 300 million tons of greenhouse gases per year. Much of its lobbying funds, to say nothing of the millions it spends funding "research" and "educational" efforts, is directed toward confusing the public with pseudoscientific arguments designed to weaken the world's ability to combat the climate crisis that 97 percent of climatologists attribute to such emissions.
- Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil per year, which is responsible for up to 5 percent of the entire U.S. 7-gigaton carbon footprint.
To continue reading, please click over to the Center for American Progress.
Follow Eric Alterman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Eric_Alterman