Business/Finance

Where there’s political smoke, there’s the oil and gas lobby

CATEGORY: CongressWell, isn’t that special: Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill before heading off for a three-week holiday vacation. (You get that much time off?) Brinkmanship is avoided; threats to shut down the government over (this time) Syrian refugees or the Puerto Rican debt crisis are avoided (or, more likely, postponed).

But it’s a bad bill for any president serving in the next few decades. Those presidents, irrespective of party, will have to deal with the physical consequences of human-induced climate disruption as well as the political repercussions of not meeting the Paris accords.

That’s because provisions buried in the spending resolution hamper the ability of future presidents to cope with a warming climate. And that’s because your representatives caved (as usual) to the oil and gas industry lobby.

As Bill Moyers and Michael Winship report, each $1 the oil and gas lobby spent in 2013 and 2014 returned $103 in subsidies. The industry spent $326 million to lobby Congress. In return it received $33.7 billion in government favors.

But there’s more:

For 40 years, Republicans and some Democrats have been demanding an end to the ban on crude oil exports. The omnibus bill lifts that ban just as the world community meeting in Paris agreed that emissions released from fossil fuels must be lowered if the planet is to escape incineration. Selling off cheap oil abroad is — you should excuse the expression —like throwing gasoline on the fire. [emphasis added]

As you consider your vote for members of Congress and the American president come November of 2016, check how they’ve been treated by the oil and gas industry — and how they’ve treated that industry in return.

The Center for Responsive Politics will help you. Here’s the tally for all oil and gas lobbying from 1998 through 2015. Here’s who received what by election cycle.

Oh, yes: It’s a $1.1 trillion spending bill. But it also contains $680 billion in tax breaks. Dandy, eh?

The budget talks, conducted largely in secret between congressional leaders and the White House, have the House speaker convinced all is well in the American homeland.

“Congress can now move into 2016 with a fresh start,” said Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

Happy New Year, everyone.

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