Robert Greenwald is a producer, director, political activist, and Brave New Films founder and president.
Our ongoing Koch Brothers Exposed video investigation has discovered something so tragic it will haunt Charles and David Koch for years to come.
Is a Koch Industries factory getting away with murder?
While the brothers wage war against safety precautions, every day their factory is dumping millions of gallons of wastewater into streams that flow near a small rural town. It's this kind of abuse by the top 1% of Americans that's driving young and old to fight money in politics, occupy Wall Street and protest in the streets. The Koch brothers personify inequality, and people are rising up and have identified the overwhelming corporate influence on democracy as a corrosive stain that harms the rest of us.
Our latest video reflects this as we follow the money and prove the Koch brothers buy a system that makes them richer at the expense of everyone else. Through political donations, think tanks and front groups, the Koch brothers are able to weaken safety and oversight laws, which leaves communities like Crossett, Arkansas behind to suffer.
"The Koch brothers are killing me and my family," Norma Thompson told us during our investigation. She's lived near the Koch brothers' mill for 39 years. Journey to Arkansas and watch her story:
This a community victimized by the Koch brothers. These Americans, almost all of whom are former employees of the factory, are dying because of their proximity to the Koch brothers' plant. The chemical-heavy factory dumps pollution into streams, and the effects are visible to the naked eye. As the waste flows away from the Koch plant, toxins bubble up into an airborne pollution that spreads through the air and wind.
All the while, the Kochs fight protections that would begin to mitigate living conditions in Crossett. Through their donations, the Koch brothers buy the system, and through their connections, they transform democracy into a self-serving apparatus that grows their corporate profits.
A toxic cloud hangs over Crossett and it is manufactured by Koch Industries.
David Bouie, a minister and a retired Georgia-Pacific employee, informs me the chemicals' stench reach the town's Main Street, about three miles away from his home.
Mr. Bouie is a local community leader has volunteered to hand-deliver your comments directly to the Koch brothers. Help save lives and post a message to the Kochs.
This isn't the first time the Koch brothers' businesses hurt innocent people. Two teenagers were killed in Texas because a Koch pipeline leaked flammable materials. The Kochs' businesses also spew benzene into the air--a known carcinogen. For this, the Clinton administration in 2000 charged the Kochs with a 97-count indictment and sought a $350 million fine.
A few months later, the Kochs received help from the Bush administration and the EPA ultimately knocked down the charges to one count and agreed to a $20 million settlement.
Just how bad is that carcinogen emitted by the Koch brothers? Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul said benzene polluters belong in jail.
The Kochs get away with polluting communities, and in some cases--hurting people-- because they use their wealth to ensure the EPA is permanently understaffed and underfunded and therefore lacks enforcement. The result is the Kochs can guarantee safety regulations suffer the same fate in Congress that many innocent individuals face in Crossett: a David versus Goliath fight for justice.
Koch Industries' life-threatening practices are legal. They'll attack me and cite some gold stars and blue ribbons as proof that they aren't killing innocent people. But follow the money: Through their wealth, the Koch brothers fund politicians, think thanks and front groups to neuter oversight and safety. The EPA, local agencies and state officials are toothless in the face of the Koch brothers and their $100 billion pollution Goliath, Koch Industries.
Before our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign, before the New Yorker investigation last year and the recent Bloomberg report, David Koch fancied himself as a do-gooder. Almost 20 years ago, David Koch was diagnosed with cancer and he has donated millions to have cancer research centers named after him since then.
David Koch was told he wouldn't have long to live, but his wealth has afforded him the best treatment, doctors and medical care available. The folks in Crossett have no such access. They don't even have a recourse to sell their homes and relocate. As the biggest employer in town, Koch Industries donates to the local churches, police stations, schools and is untouchable. While the chemicals spewing from the Koch plant are odorous in downtown Crossett, city, state and federal officials are powerless in the face of Koch billions.
Many people, including me, believe the brothers' business poisons people with cancer. All the while, David Koch, a cancer survivor, toasts the institutions that bear his name. Maybe you want to tell David Koch to travel to Crossett and see what his business is doing to the community. The community needs you, so tell the Kochs to save lives in Arkansas.
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