Everything you need to know about Bill Koch...

 ...but were too polite to ask

"That's the reason I came here (Florida) it's tax friendly," said Palm Beach's William Koch, 63. He makes no bones about why he moved Oxbow to Florida after Massachusetts tried to raise his taxes. He said, "If they're going to treat me that way, screw 'em."

Forbes Movers & Shakers 

Koch Relocates In Palm Beach for $5.2 Million
Angelo Kich Angela Koch (on right), ex-wife of energy magnate Bill Koch, has just purchased a home in Palm Beach, Fla., for $5.2 million. According to a local broker, the 5,000-square-foot home on a double lot is located "on a nice street, but not the estate section" of Palm Beach. The sellers were Jim and Susan Keenan. (Susan Keenan was formerly married to Barry Goldwater's son.)

Koch arrested on charges of domestic assault

By all accounts, Bill and Angela Koch's four-year marriage was stormy:  Bill was arrested on charges of domestic assault last summer at the couple's Cape Cod home. Angela filed for divorce in September and was granted a $16 million settlement in mid-February.

Bill Koch, the majority owner of Oxbow Corporation, an energy firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, lost a protracted court battle with his two brothers over his stake in the family oil business in 1998. An avid yachtsman, he won the 1992 America's Cup against Italy and sponsored an all-women's America's Cup team in 1995.

Big boys profit on mom-and-pop's tax break


Many of Florida's largest private companies use tax exemptions created forsmall businesses, bypassing any corporate income tax.


Sydney Freedberg & Kitty Bennett, Published ENN.com, December 28, 2003

When Florida enacted a corporate income tax in 1971, the governor and Legislature gave most small businesses a break.

Their goal: Spare mom-and-pop firms while making the state's largest companiespay 90 percent of the tax.

But look at some of the mom-and-pops who don't have to pay today:

# Oil man William Ingraham Koch has a fortune estimated at $650-million, a $24-million mansion and a West Palm Beach energy company, Oxbow Corp., with$450-million in estimated sales last year...  At least 11 of the top 30 private companies based in Florida are structured in ways that allow them to bypass the tax, a St. Petersburg Times survey shows.

"That's the reason I came here -- it's tax friendly," said Palm Beach's Koch, 63. He makes no bones about why he moved Oxbow to Florida after Massachusettstried to raise his taxes.

He said, "If they're going to treat me that way, screw 'em."

"I've done a lot of sailing and, well, the rules aren't fair," said Bill Koch, the oil man. "Well, life ain't fair. You play according to the rules that are given to you."

Koch, son of the founder of the nation's second-largest private conglomerate, is known for his $9-million wine collection, the $68-million he spent to win the America's Cup sailing trophy and his art cache with works by Picasso, Matisse and Renoir.

Left the state to avoid paying our taxes  

He is also known for litigiousness. When Massachusetts denied him an abatement on taxes he paid in a 1983 stock transaction, Koch sued.

He purchased and assigned the stock to Delaware corporations, and Massachusetts argued that he used those corporations simply to avoid taxes,not for any legitimate business purpose.

After a 10-year battle, the courts sided with Koch. He got $46-million - and left Massachusetts.

Koch acknowledges the quality of Florida's public schools is a problem. But he's dead set against making companies like Oxbow pay a Florida income tax.  

"Put it in someone else's backyard", Koch 

Worth a re-visit:The Providence Journal interview last month with this comment about Cape Wind, "I was telling one of my guys when this [wind farm] first came up, 'I wish I'd thought of this!' But as a businessman, I said I wouldn't have put it in my backyard -- I would have put it in someone else's backyard!".  

Colorado group fights (Koch's) coalbed methane wells - Rocky Mountain News

A citizens' group in western Colorado is fighting a proposal to explore for methane gas in nearby underground coal seams, saying the plannedtest drilling could devastate the area's water supplies.

The Grand Mesa Citizens Alliance, an advocacy group, has asked Delta County commissioners to reject a proposal to drill three test wells, a move thatwould set the local government against the state and set the stage for a court battle over what has become one of the biggest environmental issues in the Rocky Mountains.

The county board met on Monday to consider whether to approve a drilling proposal from privately held Gunnison Energy Corp. (owned by William Koch) of West Palm Beach, Florida and has two weeks to reach a decision. Colorado state regulators have already approved the plan.

According to the National Petroleum Council, coalbed methane accounts for some 12 percent of untapped gas reserves in the the region. While reserves in the area are believed smaller than those the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, worries about possible environmental damage have raised concerns among residents about the effects on tourism, ranching and agriculture.

Reserves in the West are seen as key to President George W. Bush's plan to boost domestic methane production, especially since the Senate rejected a drilling exploration plan for environmentally sensitive coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Environmental activists have lobbied to block the development of coalbed methane in parts of Wyoming and Montana, saying water from the wells may be tainted by salinity. Methane is a clean-burning natural gas found underground. Drilling for thefuel involves pumping large volumes of ground water which holds the gas in thecoal through pressure.

Once the water is removed the gas is freed, but problems can arise because the water, which can contain sodium bicarbonate, is potentially harmful to humans, cattle or crops if it is allowed to run off.

DAMAGES FEARED, RESERVES UNKNOWN

"We just feel the methane coalbed mining has a potential to do a lot of damage," Barbara Heck, co-chair of the Grand Mesa Citizen's Alliance, said. She and her husband operate a vineyard in the area.

Gunnison Energy has leases on 90,000 acres in the North Folk Valley in western Colorado, but reserves are not known, according to Gunnison Energy President Bernard Cherry.

The company wants to test four wells this summer, study the results over thewinter and then go ahead in stages if the project makes economic sense, he said.

The next step would about 15 to 20 wells, he told Reuters. "Any widespread drilling would have to be subject to a full Environmental Impact Statement, state and federal oversight and citizen involvement," he said.

Gunnison Energy is one of several companies owned by William Koch, who won the 1992 Americas Cup and established the Oxbow Group in 1983 after being ousted from the family business, Koch Industries, by his brothers. Lawsuits between the two sides have been settled.  

Rodgers on Koch 

Maybe the best quote about Bill Koch and Christie Mihos is from Mark Rodgers of Cape Wind, '''Bill Koch made his fortune on coal and oil and now he worries about living 6 miles away from a clean, renewable energy project. While most Massachusetts citizens worry about sky-high oil and gas prices, Koch and Mihos worry about the distant view of a clean energy alternative from their large oceanfront homes. "

Seduced bybthe wind: Koch can't keep his mouth shut 

In today's CC Times story Koch is quoted as asying, "I freely admit I don't want to look at (the turbines)," adding that the environmental and cost benefits of wind energy are overblown. Those perceived benefits, Koch said, can be "seductive." He compared it to walking into a strip bar, and falling under the gaze of an exotic dancer. "It's so seductive, but if you go over there you can get in a lot of trouble, and get a lot of diseases." 

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