Category Archives: Big Oil

After Paris agreement, big oil and gas companies invested $110 billion in fossil fuels

Repost from CBS NEWS Moneywatch

By Irina Ivanova, March 25, 2019 / 6:00 AM

In the three years since most of the world’s nations signed on to the Paris climate agreement, major oil and gas companies have poured more than $100 billion into their fossil-fuel infrastructure. That’s more than 10 times the amount the same companies have spent on low-carbon investments, despite lip service toward that area, according to a new report.

InfluenceMap analyzed public disclosures of major oil and gas companies. The five biggest—ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total—will collectively spend $115 billion on capital investments this year, according to the report. Just 3 percent of that spending will go to low-carbon investments, like hydrogen batteries or electric-car charging stations.

InfluenceMap contrasts this with the money the companies spent on “branding and lobbying” related to climate, which cost the oil and gas giants $1 billion since the end of 2015, per the report. That includes money spent directly as well as through trade groups that oppose carbon restrictions, including the American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

“The aim is to maintain public support on the issue while holding back binding policy,” the report says. The spending shows “the increasing disconnect between the oil majors’ efforts towards positive climate branding and their lobbying and actual business decisions,” it reads.

BP last year put $13 million toward defeating a carbon pricing proposal in Washington State. Exxon stated it would support a carbon tax, provided that the tax wouldn’t raise any government money and would offer immunity in climate-change lawsuits, of which there are many. At the same time, Exxon ran extensive social media ads promoting oil and gas development and opposing restrictions on fossil fuels.

That’s significant because scientists have given the world a roughly 10-year window to rapidly move off fossil fuels if it is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, according to the United Nations’ climate change panel and the U.S. federal government. Recognizing this, oil and gas companies have devoted more attention to low-carbon rhetoric, though InfluenceMap notes there’s a lack of money backing the investment in alternatives.

The U.S. dramatically ramped up its oil and gas production last year, becoming the world’s top producer of oil for the first time in four decades. The extraction industry is projected to expand by more than 6 percent this year, analysts say.

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    Trump shielded Big Oil from government shutdown effects

    Repost from the San Jose Mercury News

    Administration brought back furloughed employees to plan for radically expanding offshore oil and gas drilling

    By MARY CREASMAN, January 27, 2019 at 7:15 am, updated January 28, 2019 at 4:16 am
    Tug boats transport an oil platform, in this photograph taken above Ingleside, Texas, on May 5, 2017. | Eddie Seal/Bloomberg News

    President Trump’s government shutdown held our communities hostage over a racist and environmentally destructive border wall.

    Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were forced to go without paychecks while the bills piled up. (How long could you go without a paycheck?) Our national parks suffered what could be permanent damage. Public health protections and safeguards against pollution were put on hold.

    But one industry continued with business as usual — oil and gas.

    During the shutdown, Acting Interior Secretary and former oil lobbyist David Bernhardt brought back furloughed employees to continue working on plans to radically expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

    Leasing our oceans to polluters is apparently an “essential” function for this administration. As drafted, the plans would open nearly all of our nation’s coasts to oil and gas drilling, including California’s shoreline — where there have been no federal lease sales since 1984.

    The offshore drilling expansion itself is unacceptable, but the fact that the Trump administration prioritized work on it during the shutdown is a slap in the face to the furloughed federal employees and all Californians who care about our beaches and healthy oceans.

    And the Interior Department’s efforts to advance offshore drilling wasn’t Trump’s only effort to keep the oil and gas industry happy despite the shutdown.

    While thousands of other government employees were furloughed, the Trump administration was quietly moving ahead with its efforts to advance drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Western Arctic region of Alaska.

    Similarly, even as national parks remained largely unstaffed, the Bureau of Land Management, an agency in the Interior Department, moved forward on 22 new drilling permit applications on public lands in Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

    This blatant catering to the oil industry is unprecedented. The shutdown was so good for Big Oil that the head of the American Petroleum Institute — the oil industry’s main trade association — admitted they “have not seen any major effects of the shutdown on our industry.”

    That statement contrasts deeply with the harm imposed elsewhere by the shutdown. Here in California, communities suffering from drinking water contamination had to wait for the EPA to reopen for action on toxic chemicals.

    Overflowing trash bins and toilets, permanent vandalism and destruction left lasting damage on our national parks, and these places had to rely on volunteers to fill the gaps while federal workers and contractors were forced off the job. Joshua Tree National Park, for example, saw visitors chopping down iconic Joshua trees, illegal off-roading and graffiti — and the Park Service didn’t have staff to investigate.

    These misplaced priorities should not come as a surprise given the Trump administration’s efforts, from Day 1, to sell our public lands and waters to Big Oil and other corporate polluters. The administration is stacked with industry executives focused on profits over people.

    Our environment and our communities deserved better than the needless damage inflicted by the Trump shutdown. Thankfully, we have representatives in Congress who will fight to protect our coast.

    Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, have introduced legislation that would preserve California’s coast from the Trump administration’s drilling expansion. And California voters decisively sent a bold and pro-environment freshman class to the House of Representatives to stand up to Trump’s toxic agenda.

    The Trump administration is shameless about its agenda to ruin our environment and poison our families, all to ensure more corporate profits. But California is paying attention, and we won’t let it happen.

    Mary Creasman is CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters.
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      Benicia isn’t the only one – big oil money inserts itself in Petaluma & Santa Rosa races

      Repost from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat
      [Editor: note some of the same unfriendly giants as in Benicia: Valero Energy of course, and the law firm Nielsen Merksamer (“Bay Area-based law and lobbying firm that specializes in political and public-sector cases”).  – R.S.]

      Oil and real estate interests pour money into Petaluma and Santa Rosa races

      By Will Schmitt & Hannah Beausang, November 2, 2018, 8:57PM
      Candidates for Petaluma Mayor include, from left, Mike Harris, Teresa Barrett, and Brian Powell.

      More than $100,000 from oil and real estate interests has been funneled into city council races in Sonoma County’s two largest cities, highlighting how outside groups have ponied up to influence voters in the Nov. 6 election.

      Of the pair of independent expenditure campaigns, the most visible has been in Petaluma, where a committee backed by several large oil companies has poured more than $78,000 into the race for mayor, according to campaign finance records.

      The second spending effort is by a national real estate group that has spent more than $31,000 in favor of several city council candidates in Petaluma and Santa Rosa.

      In Petaluma especially, the rush of outside spending has caused a stir. The two campaigns there have separately generated mailers supporting two mayoral candidates — Mike Harris and Brian Powell — and online ads and mailers supporting Harris and two others running for council seats, incumbent Dave King and candidate Michael Regan.

      Brian Sobel, a Petaluma- based political analyst and former city councilman, called the level of outside spending in the city election unprecedented.

      “It’s not been in Petaluma’s tradition or history to have independent expenditures committees singling out individual candidates and supporting them,” Sobel said.

      Campaign finance rules limit individual donations directly to candidate campaigns to $200 in Petaluma and $500 in Santa Rosa per donor per election cycle. But there is no cap on how much money individuals or organizations can dole out through independent expenditure committees. The committees must report their spending to election authorities and are barred from coordinating with candidates.

      Independent expenditures to sway elections are not new, though their prevalence and power has increased since the 2010 Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court. It did away with independent political spending limits for corporations, labor groups and other entities on free-speech grounds.

      The group responsible for the largest amount of spending in Petaluma this year goes by the name Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, Including Energy Companies who Produce Gas, Oil, Jobs and Pay Taxes. The committee has received millions of dollars from oil giants Chevron, Valero Energy and Phillips 66, according to campaign finance documents filed with the California Secretary of State.

      The committee reported spending about $62,300 as of Friday to support Harris, a former councilman who is making his second bid for the mayor’s post. The oil-backed group also reported spending $15,800 in favor of Powell, a political newcomer and environmentalist who has embraced a strong anti-growth platform for the city.

      Powell, Harris and Councilwoman Teresa Barrett are vying to replace Mayor David Glass, who is retiring.

      The oil-backed coalition’s motives were not immediately obvious.

      The phone number listed on the filings is associated with the San Rafael office of Nielsen Merksamer, a Bay Area-based law and lobbying firm that specializes in political and public-sector cases. Chevron Corp., Valero Energy and Philips 66 are listed as clients on the firm’s website.

      Steven Lucas, the coalition’s registered agent, did not respond to requests for comment.

      Barrett said she believed the outside spending was an attempt to bolster the chances of her rivals for the mayor’s post and deny her a public platform. Barrett is a strong pro-environment voice who serves on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which regulates regional refineries. The district’s leadership comprises local elected officials, and Barrett would have to step down if she came up short in the mayor’s race, she noted.

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