State of American Polluters
The oil and gas industry’s lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is set to put on their annual “State of American Energy” presentation for media, political, and opinion leaders in Washington, DC. Every year they paint a rosy picture of America’s corporate oil and gas giants and attempt to greenwash the industry’s environmental impact while laying out a pro-polluter policy agenda. Here are just some of the things that the API won’t be talking about during their presentation.
Raking In Record Profits At Consumers’ Expense
Accountants are still crunching the numbers on the industry’s profits for the full 2022 financial year, but by the end of the third quarter of 2022, oil and gas companies had already reported over $327 billion in profits, a record high. Some early projections indicate that Exxon might announce over $56 billion in annual profits with Chevron potentially bringing in $37 billion in 2022. Oil & gas companies achieved these profits through squeezing Americans at the pump with record-high gas prices.
Big Spending Helped Build Political Power
Oil companies spent over $34 million to elect members of Congress who deny the reality of the climate crisis and support policies that only benefit Big Oil. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has taken $2.68 million in campaign contributions from oil & gas in his career, making him the number one House recipient of Big Oil’s campaign cash. Big Oil also has also given Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers $934 thousand and Natural Resources Committee Chair Bruce Westerman $417 thousand over their careers. Additionally, the incoming Republican freshman class received over $1 million from the oil & gas industry in the 2022 campaign cycle.
The oil & gas industry also spent $91 million lobbying Congress in 2022. API alone spent over $3 million on lobbying in 2022 and over $6 million to support their chosen candidates in the 2022 election cycle.
House GOP Allies Are Set To Block Clean Energy Progress
House Republicans are poised to act to protect Big Oil. Republicans already committed to ending the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which successfully incorporated climate policy considerations into seemingly unrelated legislation. The Committee on Oversight and Reform will now investigate the Biden Administration’s “war on U.S.-made fossil fuels”, according to Committee Chair James Comer, a complete 180 from the Committee’s previous investigatory work on oil & gas greenwashing. Republican leaders also plan to investigate Department of Energy loan programs expanded under the Inflation Reduction Act.
Beyond Committee actions, Congressional Republicans will prioritize passing legislation to increase domestic oil production and roll back regulations. Natural Resources Committee Chair Bruce Westerman said an energy package will likely be one of the first pieces of legislation considered, with a bill to limit Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases based on domestic oil & gas productions an early candidate.
In 2022, the oil & gas industry came under fire for greenwashing. A House Oversight Committee report found that oil & gas companies lied to the American public about their work to reduce emissions while taking no real action to address their large contribution to the climate crisis. Internal documents clearly showed company executives’ contempt for climate action, despite pouring millions into advertisements and reports that espouse the “low carbon” investments of oil & gas companies.
Oil & gas companies, including Exxon and Chevron, pledged to increase “clean energy” spending in 2023. However, the proposed increases are still tiny compared to the companies’ planned investments in oil & gas production.
Meanwhile, The Industry Continues To Pollute
The oil & gas industry remains committed to driving the climate crisis. Exxon and Chevron already announced plans to spend more than 80% of their energy spending on traditional oil & gas. BP plans to spend $7.5 billion on oil and gas projects, compared to $3 to $5 billion on green energy. These investments are fully inconsistent with the emission reductions needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius.