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article imageKoch Bros. made a fortune from Hurricane Katrina victims: Report

By Megan Hamilton     Aug 30, 2015 in Politics
New Orleans - Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
A new report shows how Koch Industries, headed by Charles and David Koch, profited by worsening the damage caused by the devastating storm.
The report, released by the American Bridge Project, describes how the influential billionaire brothers funneled vast sums of money into actions that exacerbated Hurricane Katrina's impact and stalled recovery on the Gulf Coast, Marina Fang writes in The Huffington Post.
Billionaires Charles and David Koch will spend almost $1 billion on 2016 U.S. election.
Billionaires Charles and David Koch will spend almost $1 billion on 2016 U.S. election.
Brave New Films
Pipelines that destroyed wetlands and attempts to obstruct legislation that would have aided recovery in the region are just a few things mentioned in the report, which was released on Thursday.
While the timing of the report coincides with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it also counters recent public relations events that the Kochs are sponsoring in an attempt to "put forward a softer side," Jezebel, quoting the project, reports. This included sponsoring a Katrina-related lunch for the National Press Club and the Louisiana State Society's "Volunteer Opportunity: Katrina + 10."
Also mentioned in the report is a class-action lawsuit brought against the Koch brothers. That suit alleged that Koch pipelines surrounding Baton Rouge decimated wetlands near the city, destroying the natural protection against hurricanes that these wetlands provide, Jezebel reports. The lawsuit alleged that the Koch Pipeline Company and other oil companies were "partly responsible for the destruction of one million acres of marshlands and also for millions more acres of dying marshland," Occupy Democrats notes, also quoting the report. Coastal wetlands normally serve as barriers to hurricanes, and when they were destroyed, this virtually opened the floodgates for New Orleans to receive the brunt of the hurricane. However, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, claiming that the plaintiffs were being "ambitious."
What's even worse, the report states, is that "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," per the report.
The report also alleges that the Koch brothers scattered recovery in the area by lobbying lawmakers to vote against The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which placed limits on rate increases for insurance premiums. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative organization founded by the Kochs, sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to oppose the bill, and, in effect, vote against people who were harmed by the hurricane, Occupy Democrats reports.
AFP said they weren't trying to harm the people whose lives were destroyed by the hurricane, claiming they supported an amendment that would have slowed rate increases, but the problem with their claim is that the amendment was tabled before they sent the letter to lawmakers urging them to vote against the bill.
As Fang notes for The Huffington Post, some of the findings in the report have been documented before, but it effectively demonstrates the Kochs' extensive political and economic influence. These findings are part of a seemingly endless list of instances in which the brothers' network of conservative organizations do whatever they can to scupper environmental legislation. Groups backed by the Koch brothers have advocated against state-level proposals that provide incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy. Their companies have also shuttered oil refineries and factories in a number of states, and many critics allege these were efforts to avoid incurring environmental cleanup costs.
While the Gulf Coast is still recuperating from this massive environmental tragedy, the Koch brothers are likely still conducting business as usual.
It isn't a comforting thought.
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