2000 Press Release, Koch Industries Paid Largest Ever Civil Fine on an Oil Company: $30 Million for More than 300 Oil and Chemical Spills in Six States

In this press release, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was imposing the “largest civil fine ever imposed on an oil company under any federal law,” on Koch Industries in 2000. The fine was $30 million.

The fine relates to more than 300 oil spills from Koch pipelines that caused severe environmental because the company “illegally discharged crude oil and petroleum products in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Alabama,” according to the release, which noted that: “In one case, almost 100,000 gallons of oil was spilled in Texas and caused a 12­mile oil slick on Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay.” The EPA’s civil case alleged “that Koch unlawfully allowed some 3 million gallons of crude oil and related products to leak from its pipelines into ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, or onto adjacent shorelines, from 1990 to 1997.”

The release also noted: “According to the EPA, one pint of oil released into the water can spread and cover one acre of water surface area and can seriously damage an aquatic habitat. It can take years for an ecosystem to recover from damage caused by an oil spill.”

This press release pertains to only one of a number of federal and state investigations of Charles Koch’s private company and its wholly owned subsidiaries. Koch Industries was investigated for potential federal and state legal violations over the years, dating back to at least the 1970s. New details about some of those are emerging, as Koch plays a growing role in federal, state, and local elections to advance his agenda.

In this particular case, Koch Industries was required to pay $30 million in civil penalties, spend $5 million on environmental cleanup and restoration, and change some of its business practices.

According to the press release:

“‘Today’s landmark fine against Koch Industries for egregious violations of the Clean Water
Act sends a strong message that those who try to profit from polluting our environment
will pay the price,’ said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner.”

Greenpeace has also published a report on Koch Industries Pollution that provides some additional context to this case and others.