Oxbow Corporation

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Oxbow Corporation is a privately-owned company which was founded by William I. Koch (Bill), who is the brother of David Koch and Charles Koch, billionaire fraternal twin brothers who operate Koch Industries.[1] On its website the company states that "the Oxbow Group is made up of more than two dozen companies with yearly aggregate sales of over $3.7 billion, combined assets of over $1.7 billion and over 1200 employees worldwide. Oxbow’s primary businesses are the mining and marketing of energy and commodities such as coal, natural gas, petroleum, metallurgical and calcined coke."[2]

Political donations

An article released in September 2011 reported that William Koch had donated money to Rep. John Boehner. Bill Koch has donated at least $80,200 to Boehner’s campaign funds since the beginning of 2010. He’s given another $65,400 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the approximately the same amount to National Republican Senatorial Committee. “We are a big supporter of John Boehner. We think he's good for business,” said Oxbow spokesman Brad Goldstein to the Wall Street Journal. “ ... this [Obama] administration has been rather harsh on the industry.” [3]

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Oxbow and its executives contributed over $3 million in the 2012 election season, the second most of any energy company (behind Alliance Resource Partners), and $1.6 million lobbying Congress from 2011 through Oct. 2012.[4]

Mining safety violations

The Oxbow Corporation operates the Elk Creek Mine in Western Colorado. According to Greenpeace,

Oxbow’s Elk Creek Mine has been cited with over 2000 violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Oxbow has paid over $960,000 in fines since beginning the operation of the mine ten years ago. Of the 2000 violations, over 400 were deemed “significant and substantial,” meaning they could result in injury or death. One single violation of mine ventilation regulations in March 2010 cost Oxbow a penalty of $45,000.18 Explosive coal-dust buildup, excessive methane, in adequate ventilation, and poor maintenance including fire extinguishers, were among the violations, according to MSHA’s database. Such “significant and substantial” violations can lead to injuries and tragic fatalities. Though the MSHA investigation has not been completed, excessive methane and improper ventilation were recurring problems at Massey Coal’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners were killed in an explosion in April 2010.19 In the last decade, the only two fatalities in Colorado coal mines occurred at Oxbow operations.20 The Associated Press reported the death of a 37-year old miner in December 2000 at Oxbow Mining’s Sanborn Creek Mine, likely due to a faulty fitting on a high-pressure hose.21 At the Elk Creek Mine, a 26-year-old miner died in January 2007 when a bundle of materials fell on him.[5]

Mining expansion into protected forest

In 2009, a subsidiary of the Oxbow Group requested to expand the Elk Creek Mine into a federally protected roadless area of the Gunnison National Forest. Oxbow requested permission to build into the area in order to drill methane vents for their underground coal mine expansion. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, eventually approved the roadless rule exemption for Oxbow’s Elk Creek mine in May 2010."[5]

With the support of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Obama administration in 2011 proposed a Colorado-specific rule that would provide protection for only about half a million acres of Colorado forest land and would permit more logging and road-building on 13% of current roadless areas in Colorado, as well as exempt 20,000 acres of roadless land in the state so that the coal industry can build in the Sunset Trail roadless area as well as other areas.

In May 2011 it was reported that Oxbow was exploring for coal on Colorado’s Oak Mesa, just a few miles from the Currant Creek roadless area. Environmentalists oppose the mine exploration on the basis that it will require road to be built in areas that are currently off limits to road development.[6]

Fracking

Oxbow Group partners with gas driller Gunnison Energy Corporation to frack and sell natural gas.[7]

Tar sands

On its website Oxbow states that it is “the largest distributor of petroleum coke in the world with annual shipments of nearly 11 million tons.” Petcoke is a byproduct of tar sands produced through the oil refining process that is coal-like in composition. When it is burned in power plants or factories, petcoke emits 38% more carbon by weight than conventional coal and significantly more toxic pollutants.[8]

Contact details

Oxbow Group
1601 Forum Place, Suite 1400
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone: (561) 697-4300
Email: info AT oxbow.com
Website: http://www.oxbow.com/ContentPage.asp?FN=Home

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Greenpeace.org Bill Koch: the Dirty Money Behind the Cape Win Opposition, Report, Accessed February 28, 2010.
  2. Oxbow Corporation, "Philosophy", Oxbow Corporation website, accessed June 2009.
  3. Jonathan Thompson, "Bill Koch, coal, and political cash", High Country News, September 19, 2011.
  4. David Turnbull, "Koch’ed Up: Exposing Petcoke’s Political Pollution," Think Progress, Oct. 18, 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Greenpeace.org Bill Koch: the Dirty Money Behind the Cape Win Opposition, Report. 2010. Accessed February 28, 2010
  6. "Colorado Roadless Areas on the Chopping Block (Again)" Ted Zukoski, EarthJustice, May 23, 2011.
  7. Mike Ludwig, "Kasich, Koch and Big-Industry Bucks: Why Ohio Is the Next Fracking Frontier," truthout, Nov. 29, 2011.
  8. David Turnbull, "Koch’ed Up: Exposing Petcoke’s Political Pollution," Think Progress, Oct. 18, 2012.

External links

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