One of the most powerful unknowns: The Bechtel Corporation

Molly Wood Apr 7, 2016
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The Boulder Dam, then called the Hoover Dam, on the Arizona - Nevada border, 1936. Keystone/Getty Images

One of the most powerful unknowns: The Bechtel Corporation

Molly Wood Apr 7, 2016
The Boulder Dam, then called the Hoover Dam, on the Arizona - Nevada border, 1936. Keystone/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Although most Americans have not heard of the Bechtel Corporation, the company is responsible for several notable infrastructure projects across the United States including the Colorado River’s Hoover Dam and Boston’s Big Dig.

In her new book “The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World”, author Sally Denton profiles five generations of men within the Bechtel family that turned the organization into one of the largest privately-held companies in the U.S.

The now multi-billion dollar company has a powerful presence across the globe and, Denton argues, outsized influence within the federal government:

I’m not as critical as I think it should be a matter of serious public policy discussion in America.  What companies are going to build these mega-projects? So if its going to be Bechtel, why shouldn’t  the taxpayers have access, and why shouldn’t there be some transparency about it and the taxpayers know, “Why Bechtel?” This is a privately-held company, and so the lack of transparency makes it much challenging to shine any spotlight on them. 

Bechtel Spokesperson Charlene Wheeless had this statement on Denton’s book:

Since our founding in 1898, Bechtel has successfully completed more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents. We take on the world’s toughest project challenges and deliver them collaboratively and responsibly for the benefit of our customers and the communities where we work and live. This book distorts Bechtel’s record and reputation and contains many inaccuracies, saying we did things we never did in places where we didn’t work. Our Bechtel colleagues have dedicated their careers to helping others through many extraordinary projects over 118 years.  We believe they are the best professionals in the world and we are enormously proud of them and the work they do. Bechtel wins its work by consistently delivering value and meeting customer expectations in the extremely challenging global engineering and construction market.  We adhere to strict ethical standards in every aspect of our business—we set high standards, we strive to always do the right thing, and deliver superior work safely for our customers.  Our focus is on continuing Bechtel’s long-term legacy of delivering solutions to the challenges facing the world today.

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