The Balance Sheet for November 16, 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

TELLING THE REAL STORY ABOUT OIL SHALE

Last week, a former elected official and representatives of sportsman and conservation groups flew into Washington, DC. Their mission was to educate members of Congress and the administration about the damage that continued oil shale speculation can have on jobs, drinking water and air quality in the West.

FRACKING INDUSTRY USES MILITARY TACTICS ON CITIZENS

Earthworks uncovered the psychological warfare tactics oil and gas companies are using on Pennsylvania residents who have spoken out about concerns over hydraulic fracturing in their backyards. In one meeting, Matt Carmichael (manager of external affairs for Anadarko Petroleum) went as far as to call these concerned citizens an ‘insurgency.’ Read the full story at CNBC.com.

MEET THE FRIENDS OF FRACKING

When the Huffington Post published the Facebook profile for the fracking industry, it showed that there are some tight connections between energy companies and those tasked with regulating the hydraulic fracturing process. The Checks and Balances Project profiled three individuals who have been friendly to fracking and who have helped green light its use across the nation.

DID YOU KNOW?

EXXONMOBIL, SHELL STILL AREN’T PRODUCING COMMERCIAL OIL FROM OIL SHALE

Despite the fact that companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron have leased upwards of 200,000 acres for oil shale development. None of these companies are able to turn this proto-petroleum rock into commercial oil.

A WELL-FUNDED SUPERCOMMITTEE

According to a new report from Oil Change International and Public Campaign Action Fund titled, Payback Time? The Supercommittee & Fossil Fuel Subsidies, the 12 members of the supercommitee received at least $4.2 million in dirty energy campaign contributions over the past 11 years.

Other key findings show:

  • Supercommittee members have at least 35 former or current staffers with revolving door ties to dirty energy interests.
  • Subsidies to fossil fuels can be conservatively estimated at $10 billion a year or $100 billion over the last decade.

COMING UP

Friday, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) continues to push for more taxpayer-funded subsidies to industry, this time for oil shale. His bill will be heard in the Energy & Minerals Subcommittee, which he chairs, and aims to throw more money at companies like Shell and ExxonMobil for oil shale speculation. Despite the hype, industry has failed to produce oil from oil shale rock for a hundred years. Join us as we play “Oil Shale Bingo” and listen for the same rhetoric to appear that has been told over the last century.

CONTACT

Twitter: @CandBP | Email: tips@checksandbalances.org

The Balance Sheet for September 14, 2011

THE BALANCE SHEET                                                                                 Sept 14, 2011
Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

IS REP. LAMBORN PROMOTING UNSAFE CX?
On Friday, Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Energy & Minerals Subcommittee held a hearing to examine categorical exclusions (CX). During the Bush years, BLM officials used CX to avoid conducting scientific review prior to green lighting drilling permits. In May of 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reformed the use of CX in drilling permitting to avoid its abuse and protect air quality, water quality and wildlife. Naturally, the oil and gas industry was unhappy to lose the ability to take reckless shortcuts on public lands. So enter Big Oil campaign contribution recipient Rep. Lamborn who claims that a lack of unsafe CX is hurting the oil industry.

BLM PLAYS OFFENSE
During the same hearing, the Bureau of Land Management went on the offensive, announcing it would proceed with a rulemaking procedure to solidify Sec. Salazar’s reform. “[Interior] Secretary [Ken] Salazar should be applauded for continuing to ensure we have responsible energy development in the West,” Matt Garrington, Deputy Director of the Checks and Balances Project, told The Hill. “We have seen what happens when oil-and-gas companies take shortcuts, and it’s not pretty.”

PROTESTERS HIGHLIGHT CLINTON’S CONNECTION TO KEYSTONE
The thousands of protesters staked out in front of the White House didn’t miss the connection between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Keystone XL pipeline. The Checks and Balances Project captured video interviews of protesters making their voices heard during one of the final days of demonstrations.

DID YOU KNOW?

API JOBS REPORT: STRONG ON HYPE, WEAK ON FACTS
Last week, Colorado-based Headwaters Economics issued a rebuttal to the American Petroleum Institute jobs report. Headwaters Economics’ research highlighted a few areas where the facts didn’t uphold API’s hype:

API hype

  • Increasing regulatory burdens on the oil and gas upstream sector will result in higher development costs, which can potentially hinder the growth of production, tax revenues, and job creation.
The facts

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 the energy industry has boomed, adding roughly 10,000 jobs a month, and drilling activity is approaching a thirty-year high.
  • When it comes to land-based oil and gas drilling in the United States, there is little evidence that state and federal regulations are hampering industry’s ability to respond to market signals such as price, the “primeness” of a resource play, and technology.
  • The energy sector remains highly volatile, and a   review of its history would suggest future repetition of boom-bust cycles.

COMING UP THIS WEEK

WAS THERE A PROBLEM WITH OFFSHORE DRILLING?
On Thursday, the House Energy and Minerals Subcommittee is meeting to review proposed legislation concerning the Interior Department’s overhaul of offshore drilling policy. Our prediction – Rep. Lamborn and others will attempt to downplay the seriousness of the BP spill and try to get the words “regulations” and “jobs” in the same sentence as many times as possible. This hearing comes as  evidence is mounting regarding a potential new oil spill at BP’s Macanda oil well. The hearing is at 10 a.m. in 1324 Longworth.

CONTACT

Twitter: @CandBP | Email: tips@checksandbalances.org

THE BALANCE SHEET: MAY 3, 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

‘GOUGE-ONOMICS’: PRODUCTION DOWN, PROFITS UP

Despite billion-dollar profits across the board, Big Oil refineries are producing less fuel while making more money. It’s too bad this game of monopoly has real impacts to our pocketbooks. According to the Department of Energy, American refineries’ operations have dropped by eight percent to 81 percent of their total production capacity. Oil and gas corporations are fattening up their wallets at taxpayers expense. Los Angeles Times has the full story.

CRITICS SLAM SO-CALLED ‘OIL SHALE’ AT BLM HEARINGS

During the initial round of hearings hosted by the BLM, critics voiced their concerns over oil shale calling it “the petroleum equivalent of fool’s gold,” and pointing to the fact that oil companies have failed to produce any commercial oil from oil shale in the last 100 years. The economics of the dirty energy source were described as, “a Hail Mary shot from the half court.” The hearings are assessing the use of 1.9 million acres of public land that could be made available for oil shale drilling projects. Read about the hearings in the Deseret News or watch the video from NBC’s Grand Junction, Colorado affiliate KKCO.

THE INCONVENIENT ROOM SIZE: PENNSYLVANIANS SHUT OUT

During a ‘public’ meeting a week after the major fracking wastewater spill in Leroy, Pa., Governor Tom Corbett’s gas advisory commission shut out hundreds of Pennsylvanians who came to express their concerns about the controversial process. It’s no wonder the Commission is less than welcoming to public scrutiny: In 2010, Commission members collectively gave $790, 950 to Corbett’s political campaign and had 514 reported environmental violations between them. C&BP has the full story.

‘R-OIL’ MARRIAGE TO END IN DIVORCE?

Thursday, the launch of RoilWedding.com highlighted Big Oil’s ties with Republican members of Congress. But last week, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan vocalized his support for the end of taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil and gas companies. Is this the first sign that the honeymoon may be over? Read more about Ryan’s remarks here.


DID YOU KNOW?

FLIPPING OUT OVER OIL

The oil and gas industry gave $180,650 to House Speaker John Boehner for the 2010 election, the most they’ve ever paid into his campaign accounts in one election cycle. Could that be why he flip-flopped on taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil and gas companies after telling Jonathan Karl of ABC News that they could be on the chopping block?


COMING UP THIS WEEK

CONGRESS BACK IN SESSION MEANS IT’S TIME TO ANTE UP

Congress back in session means it’s time for some to put taxpayers’ money where politicians’ mouths are. We will be watching for any action from Chairman Paul Ryan, or the other Republicans we noted who expressed a willingness to end billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded subsidies to the oil and gas industry. President Obama sent a clear signal, in his letter to Congressional leadership, that ending oil and gas subsidies is a priority for his administration. Senator Harry Reid vowed to hold a vote to end the subsidies within the month.


CONTACT

Twitter: @checksandbals | Email: tips@checksandbalances.org

THE BALANCE SHEET: APRIL 26, 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

WE’RE IN THE WRONG LINE OF WORK

While Americans are suffering from pain at the pump, Halliburton reported last week that its first quarter revenue set a company record at $5.3 billion, which is up from $3.8 billion in the first quarter of 2010. First quarter profits were up 148 percent from $206 million in 2010 to $511 million in 2011.

Halliburton cited increased U.S. onshore drilling activity as the reason for its success, with Chairman Dave Lesar stating, “North America delivered strong performance as margins progressed due to increased activity while Eastern Hemisphere operating income was significantly impacted by geopolitical events in North Africa, delays in Iraq, and typical seasonality.”

ANOTHER EARTH DAY, ANOTHER SPILL

A Chesapeake Energy Corp. well blowout occurred in Northern Pennsylvania Tuesday, spilling up to tens of thousands of gallons of toxic, chemical-laden fluid onto area residential land and contaminating a tributary of the Susquehanna River. The incident may be the most serious fracking accident in the history of the commonwealth’s Marcellus Shale development. DeSmogBlog has the story.

WORD GAMES

Last week, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director David Neslin testified before a Senate committee looking into hydraulic fracturing’s less than spotless track record on safety. Contrary to his testimony, where he asserted that groundwater contamination from fracking has never occurred, Neslin told The Checks and Balances Project immediately following the hearing that oil and gas production in Colorado had indeed led to contamination. Most drilling is fracking, so to say fracking does not cause groundwater contamination is disingenuous at best. Watch how Neslin and industry representatives use rhetorical tactics to excuse corporate responsibility for toxic fracking fluid casing leaks and pit overflows.

PRICE, NOT POLICY, DETERMINES HEALTH OF WESTERN ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Headwater Economics on Tuesday released a report analyzing the relative success of states and communities to maximize energy development’s benefits and minimize its costs. The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations for communities trying to achieve that goal. In five Rocky Mountain, energy-producing states – Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming – Headwater Economics discovered that common sense standards and protections did not hamper energy production. Price was the ultimate factor in determining whether energy development occurs. Read the full report.

DID WE LEARN OUR LESSON FROM THE GULF OIL SPILL DISASTER?

Checks and Balances Deputy Director Matt Garrington asks that question in his guest-commentary piece for Sunday’s Denver Post. Give it a read and let us know what you think.


DID YOU KNOW?

OIL & GAS NY LOBBY FUNDS UP 400 PERCENT IN TWO YEARS
In New York State last year, the oil and gas industry spent $1.6 million on lobbying to fight common sense protections from oil & gas fracking impacts, up from $400,000 in 2008.


COMING UP THIS WEEK

BLM TO REVIEW COMMERCIAL OIL SHALE LEASING PROGRAM

The Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management will host public hearings in three Western states – Colorado, Utah and Wyoming – beginning today to gather input from residents and experts as they review the federal oil shale leasing program. Find out more about the hearings.

Now that gas prices are hovering around $4 per gallon, risky schemes like oil shale are back in the national debate. Oil shale is pure science fiction, as companies have failed to produce commercial oil from oil shale despite a hundred years of experimentation.

Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), Subcommittee Chairman Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) have all been throwing about this fantastic tale. Compare what politicians are saying to those in the oil and gas industry, who believe viable oil shale is a decade out or more.

Furthermore, oil shale today is being conflated with shale gas and shale oil, giving the false impression that oil shale is ready for prime time. This has led to inaccurate rhetoric, and it has the potential to mislead investors, policymakers and other Americans interested in real energy solutions.

Compare what politicians are saying to those in the oil and gas industry, who believe viable oil shale is a decade out or more: Oil Shale Quotes – Congress v Industry


CONTACT US

Twitter: @checksandbals | Email: tips@checksandbalances.org

THE BALANCE SHEET: APRIL 18 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

2010 ONSHORE OIL SPILLS EXXON VALDEZ x3
Last Tuesday, CBS News reported that there were over 6,500 spills, leaks, fires or explosions nationwide at onshore drill sites or pipelines. And, at least 34 million gallons of oil or toxic chemicals were spilled – that’s three times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. Read the story for state-by-state oil spill numbers.

WHAT OIL SPILL?
Rep. Doc Hastings would have you forget about the Gulf spill, even as the 1-year anniversary of the accident nears. Leading into the hearing, Hastings told Politico that it was too soon to consider offshore drilling safety legislation but not too soon to speed-up offshore drilling. Why the rush when drilling companies are sitting on 70 percent of offshore leases as well as 57% of onshore leases and over 7,200 onshore drilling permits.

HISTORY FULL OF GAS
During the Natural Resources committee markup of the offshore bills, Hastings claimed that ending the moratorium on drilling in 2008 was the reason for a drop in gas prices. He seems to have forgotten the worldwide economic recession where oil demand crashed and the price of a barrel of oil plummeted 60 percent. At that same hearing, House Republicans shot down an amendment by Ranking Member Markey to end taxpayer-funded subsidies to Big Oil.

DID YOU KNOW?

OIL SHALE IS AS ENERGETIC AS A POTATO
Oil shale, the “rock that burns,” contains one-tenth the energy of crude oil and has the same energy density as a potato. Read more in energy expert Randy Udall’s piece “The Illusive Bonanza.”

COMING UP THIS WEEK

OUR 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH DISASTER
April 20th, 2011 marks the one year anniversary of the BP Gulf oil disaster, but it looks like offshore drilling safety legislation and reforms to stop $4 billion-a-year subsidies to Big Oil won’t be going anywhere this month.

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CONTACT

Tips, Ideas and Feedback
tips@checksandbalances.org

THE BALANCE SHEET: APRIL 12, 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

WHAT’S THE DEFINITION OF AN IMPARTIAL WITNESS?

Last week’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing turned into a good ol’ boys club, when Rep. Doug Lamborn invited his buddy, James Schroeder, to testify. Schroeder gave $2,000 to the Western Energy Alliance PAC, which turned around and gave $10,000 to members of the House Natural Resources Committee, including, $2,000 to Lamborn. http://tinyurl.com/3ojkawm

EVEN THE TEA PARTY CAN’T GET BEHIND THE SUBSIDIES

During a DC rally against government spending, many Tea Partiers went on the record in opposition to the annual squandering of 4 billion taxpayer dollars on Big Oil and Gas tax loopholes. Think Progress released the video last week: http://tinyurl.com/6j9lkbc

KILLER FACT OF THE WEEK

WILD LANDS DEFUNDED, BIG OIL STILL WINNING BIG

While the government shutdown was avoided late Friday night, that doesn’t mean glaring budget issues were resolved. At a time when the oil and gas industry is reporting record profits, and we’re hearing constant talk about the need to cut government spending, Republicans still insist on giving away over $4 billion of American tax every year to Big Oil. Taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil weren’t up for discussion during last week’s negotiations on spending, but Republicans did successfully attack western public lands by defunding Wild Lands implementation.

COMING UP THIS WEEK

HASTINGS & GOP CIRCUS EVENTS FOR BIG OIL

House Natural Resources Chairman, and drilling proponent, Doc Hastings is finally bringing his offshore drilling bills into the light, after keeping them in carefully hidden in the shadows. Two different House committee hearings on Wednesday will mark up the drilling bills that were so secret, Politico reported tha tHastings’s staff refused to discuss them over email or brief Democratic committee members. The only time they would talk about them was with the oil and gas lobbyists who received a private briefing on the bills. Meanwhile, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee will push through a bill that uses the Clean Air Act to expedite the permitting process, leading us to wonder about Republican claims of over-regulating. http://tinyurl.com/4dqbxlh

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Full Committee Markup on H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230 and H.R. 1231
Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
10:00 a.m.

Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
Subcommittee on Energy and Power
2322 Rayburn House Office Building
10:00 a.m.

THE COST OF FRACKING

Ahead of a Congressional hearing about fracking comes a Cornell study that demonstrates the disastrous effects the process has on the climate. And watch for the Checks and Balances full, fact-checker report after the hearing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Natural Gas Drilling: Public Health and Environmental Impacts.
Full Committee and Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife
EPW Hearing Room – 406 Dirksen
10:00 AM EDT