Fossil Fuel Magnate Bill Koch Seeks Public Lands to Shelter His ‘Private Old West Marvel’

Jessica Goad
Climate Progress / News Report
Published: Wednesday 22 August 2012
“Koch is building the town on his ranch in Gunnison County, Colorado.  But he has proposed highly controversial land exchanges that would swap tracts of public lands for areas that he has the rights to in order to expand his ranch and provide more privacy for the old western town.”
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F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”  A story in yesterday’s Denver Post about fossil fuel magnate William (Bill) Koch’s construction of a private old western town in Colorado provides yet another example of this truism.

Koch has built for himself:

… an unpopulated, faux Western town that might boggle the mind of anyone who ever had a playhouse. Its full-size buildings come with polished brass and carved-mahogany details and are fronted with board sidewalks and underpinned by a water-treatment system. A locked gate with guards screens who comes and goes….

Koch’s project manager has told county officials that the enclave in the middle of the 6,400-acre Bear Ranch won’t ever be open to the public. It is simply for Koch’s amusement and for that of his family and friends.

Koch is building the town on his ranch in Gunnison County, Colorado.  But he has proposed highly controversial land exchanges that would swap tracts of public lands for areas that he has the rights to in order to expand his ranch and provide more privacy for the old western town.

The “Central Rockies Land Exchange” would give Koch control of 1,800 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in exchange for various other parcels that he owns in Colorado. Local opponents say that the land exchange will deny access to public lands where they hunt and hike.  Koch has hired a public relations firm to sell local residents on the idea.

Bill Koch is brother to David and Charles Koch, conservative heavy hitters who are virulently anti-climate science and have bankrolled right-wing groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation.

While Bill Koch maintains some distance from the political zeal of his brothers, he has given at least $2 million to Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super-PAC.  He is also the founder and CEO of the Oxbow Corporation, which has interests in various energy ventures including coal, natural gas, and petroleum coke.  Forbes has listed his value at $4 billion.

Koch’s western town that will be entirely for his own benefit brings into relief the remarkable contrast between public and private lands and the value of places that belong to all Americans, not just the wealthy few.

Koch isn’t the only one who is interested in privatizing our public lands.  Indeed, Republican Vice Presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget contains a provision to sell millions of acres of public lands to the highest bidder.  The language is largely based on Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) bill that would get rid of three million acres of public lands without clarifying how taxpayers would receive a fair return for them.  And Florida Representative Cliff Stearns (R), who just lost his primary election, called for selling off national parks last March.



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ABOUT Jessica Goad

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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6 comments on "Fossil Fuel Magnate Bill Koch Seeks Public Lands to Shelter His ‘Private Old West Marvel’"

gduell

August 22, 2012 5:28pm

I'm really tired of hearing about these insane assholes. Can't we just have them committed?

Barfly

August 22, 2012 2:02pm

The Kochs are illusional of delusional. It's fake. It's make believe. And, it's real to them. Meanwhile they do not want to see the homeless.
( I may have posted this earlier. If so please excuse.)

cadawa

August 22, 2012 12:56pm

There are 5 Koch Brothers and they spent a lot of time in court after daddy dies suing the hell out of each other. It ended with the David and Charlie cannabalizing the other three. There is much bitterness between the Bros. with accusations of cheating etc. in spite of their father's last words that the boys 'be good to each other'.
There is nothing more destructive than men with waaaay too much money. If they weren't crazy to begin with (there is some evidernce that they may have been) excessive wealth and unrestrained power finishes the job. The damage they do is massive and preventable.
Their dad made his money not as a 'fuel magnate' by inventing a new refining process. American refiners nixed it so he sold it to Russians. Papa was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society. The bizarre "out of the UN throwback' org. Now his genetically challenged, debased off spring want to pick our president and run the country like their own private club.

NHsolarguy

August 22, 2012 10:52am

Who says rich people don't suckle at the public tit... One of the richest guys in America wants free land from the government.

Rebel with a Cause

August 22, 2012 10:17am

Yeeehaaa Bill, this town ain't big enough for the both of us!!!
Or for anyone else, for that matter! Apart from your rich cronies, that is!
Well, prepare yourself for a stampede Bill, we're sending a posse right after your goddamn ass! Get the undertaker to measure your coffin, boy! You're going to get OCCUPYED Yeeehaaa!

greghilbert

August 22, 2012 6:03pm

Rebel, I got me a coffee can full of nickles and such, and y'all are welcome to it if the posse needs a grubstake for beans. Folks here would be mighty obliged if you hung ALL them low-down Koch brother oil magnets, and hung 'em EXTRA HIGH!