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November 22nd, 2013

The United States of Oil and Gas Interests?

By Kate Fried stack of one hundred dollar bills

Lawmakers worked overtime this week to justify the passage of a trio of bills in the House of Representatives that if passed, would increase fracking. With public opinion on fracking shifting from “huh?” to “meh,” Congress remains clumsily out of step with the people whose interests they were elected to serve. 

Of course, this isn’t so surprising, given the latest set of revelations that the oil and gas industry is bankrolling many members of Congress. According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), oil and gas industry contributions to Congress rose 180 percent, to $12 million, in the last election cycle. 

While the bills passed in the House this week weren’t introduced by any of the top ten recipients of oil and gas industry contributions, it’s not hard to imagine that that these sponsors may have recently had visions of checks from Chevron or Chesapeake Energy dancing in their heads. 

How else does one explain H.R. 1965, a giveaway to the oil and gas industry that would prioritize fracking and other fossil fuel extraction on public lands over other uses? Sure, its sponsor, Utah Republican Rob Bishop, chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, claimed he was just doing it for the kids. “If you care about kids, you have to provide this kind of resource for the Western states,” said Bishop. (Replace “kids” with “oil and gas industry profits,” and Bishop’s sound byte sounds a bit more plausible.)  

Congress also approved a bill sponsored by Representative Bill Flores of Texas, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act. It’s not difficult to imagine why this particular bill might favor the oil and gas industry—its name says it all. It would, in effect, strip the federal government of control over oil and gas drilling on federal land (i.e.: it’s own land) and give it to states that can’t adequately protect our public lands from fracking. 

Finally, the House passed the Natural Gas Permitting Reform Act, which would undermine the government’s ability to effectively review potential fracked gas projects. As we reported earlier, this bill is a clear power grab by the oil and gas industry to build out infrastructure in order to expand its market overseas. 

Ironically, President Obama has vowed to veto all three bills. No matter where the bucks come from, in the case, it’s pretty apparent where they stop. 

5 Comments on The United States of Oil and Gas Interests?

  1. Alan Mussen says:

    It’s shameful that members of Congress talk about “the future of our children” while at the same time passing laws that promise a future of increased global warming, polluted land and water, and dead wildlife.
    What kind of future is this?

  2. Reginald Miller says:

    I do hope and pray that President Obama keeps his word and does veto all three of those bills. The majority of the american people that know about fracking for oil and gas are 100% opposed to these operations. The The environmental risk associated with fracking overwhelmingly out weigh the benefits.

  3. Carol Green says:

    I would like to think anyone who cares even a little about future generations, anyone have children or grandchildren, would vote against this assault on the only planet we have on which to live.

  4. guest says:

    Well, the federal government theoretically does not own land. Such lands are held in the public trust, as citizens share the wealth of this nation. Perhaps states will be better at self regulating, since we’ve learned now that the federal government routinely only regulates in favor of big oil and gas. Where is the affordable thin film solar already?

  5. Jim Senter says:

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in the President’s vow to veto. He’s made promises like this before. Am I the only person who remembers the telecom immunity act, the one that retroactively legalized the telecoms collusion with the Biush Admin to eavesdrop on US citizens? Senator Obama not only vowed to vote against it when it came up, he said he would filibuster it.

    So when it did come up, not only did he not filibuster it, he voted for it.

    Up until now, he has shown no interest in standing up to the oil and gas industry. His energy policy has been based on weaning us from dependence on FOREIGN oil.

    Nope, if he’s the only thing standing between us and EXXON planet, we’re screwed.

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