Editorial cartoon 8/6/14

One of the big mysteries of today's politics is how so many American voters fall for the political propaganda bought and paid for by Charles and David Koch.

Frankly, if the Koch brothers are behind a candidate, you might think it would behoove folks to run the other way.

They spend tens of millions of dollars on ads to help the Scott Walkers of the world, claiming that they're all out to help "hardworking" Americans, but the truth is nothing of the sort. Their ultimate goal is to help themselves as they seek to pad their already multibillion-dollar net worth by making sure the country doesn't fall for all this climate change nonsense.

The brothers, of course, are into fossil fuels big time. So — via Americans for Prosperity and similar groups with mom-and-apple-pie names — they support candidates who pooh-pooh climate change and spend millions trying to defeat politicians who are worried about the future of the earth if we don't cut down on fossil fuel pollution.

Why else do you think the Walker administration in Wisconsin does its best to hinder the expansion of solar energy and make it tough to site wind turbines? The Kochs are opposed to sustainable energy sources, which might lessen demand for oil and coal, and they pump lots of money into the governor's campaign coffers. 

While in Chicago last week for a few ballgames, I read in the Chicago Tribune what good neighbors these Koch brothers are when it comes to even modest regulation of fossil fuels.

For years now, the Kochs have stored piles of uncovered petroleum coke — petcoke, for short — at their KCBX Terminals along the Calumet River on the city's south side. Because black petcoke dust from two 30-foot-high piles blows through nearby residential neighborhoods on windy days, causing health concerns, the city of Chicago issued an order requiring the Kochs to build storage sheds to contain the messy stuff by 2016. The federal Environmental Protection Agency also declared that the dust emanating from the petcoke piles is a violation of the Clean Air Act.

While the Kochs have promised to spend a minimum of $125 million on electing friendly politicians during this fall's elections, they apparently don't feel so free with shelling out their money on something that just might help reduce the lung-damaging particles floating in the air around a poor section of Chicago.

So despite the pronouncement by the EPA, they've filed a response to the Chicago Department of Public Health not only asking for a delay in building the storage sheds, but seeking to increase the size of the piles from 30 feet to 45 feet in the meantime.

And should the city not grant the delay?

Well, if the city should be so stubborn, the Kochs are promising to file a lawsuit, which they promise will tie up the issue in the courts for years into the future. 

Interestingly, another Koch company that stored petcoke in a Detroit neighborhood finally acquiesced to clean it up after getting considerable pressure from officials in the bankrupt city. The Tribune noted that the brothers don't appear to be quite so accommodating in Chicago, though.

Yes, these are the kind of citizens who want us to believe that they've picked out candidates who will best serve the people.

No, they haven't. They've picked out the candidates who will best serve the Kochs and their greed for more profits.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and @DaveZweifel

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