According to an article in the New York Times two years ago, Bill Koch has been fighting in court for more than a decade to keep a wind farm out of his neighborhood in Nantucket. He believes that the farm’s 130 industrial turbines would not only create what he calls “visual pollution” but also increase the cost of electricity for everyone.
Who is Bill Koch?
We all know the “Koch Brothers” from watching MSNBC. They are the “evil industrialists” that are sponsoring the Republican agenda by pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign. However, those are Charles and David Koch, the “big” Koch brothers. There are actually two more: William (Bill – featured here) and Frederick.
Frederick is actually the oldest brother. He was practically disowned and denied by his father Fred when he was young and openly gay. After their father died, Charles took over the company and the other three brothers were partners in it. Bill and Frederick didn’t really want to continue and wanted to liquidate their portion and cash out. Both got bought out for over $800 million together, more than half of which went to Bill. Charles and David stayed in and continued with Koch Industries. When they went on to thrive, Bill was upset that his $400 million wasn’t enough, and he sued his brothers. That legal battle waged for twenty years and almost tore the family apart. Charles and David prevailed in the end. Incidentally, Bill was also the Koch brother who won the America’s cup in 1992, defeating the Italian team.
The 2015 Forbes 400 issue just came out last week. Charles and David Koch are now #5 on the list, with $41 billion net worth each. Bill is #307 with $2.2 billion. Not shabby, but he must be kicking himself for taking the $400 million decades ago so he’d have liquidity.
Bill started the Oxbow Group, a company which traded in coal, gas and oil, and he did well for himself. I find it ironic that he does not want a wind farm in his neighborhood, because they look unsightly to those mansions of billionaires nearby. I wonder what he ever did for those thousands of homes of miners, workers and Wal-Mart employees who live downwind from his coal mines, or drink the water downstream from his oil wells? They don’t have unlimited funds to stall him in court for decades, like he did with the wind farm.
I actually understand how one can fight for his business. You have to do what it takes to make it live on, survive, and thrive. But I do have a hard time understanding how you can argue against a wind farm, a facility that generates clean, renewable energy as a byproduct of nature.
You can sell all the oil in the world. But don’t stop our wind farms as you go about your business.
It’s humanity’s business.