Current Cases

Democrats Urge House Oversight Committee to Investigate Speculators

Tomorrow, the House Oversight & Government Reform committee will hold a hearing about the role of speculation in gas prices. Ranking member Elijah E. Cummings has released a report examining the root causes of inflated fuel costs, which concludes that the debate so far has been focused on the wrong things.

Instead of listening to energy executives (who represent the most profitable industry in the world, to the tune of $31 billion for the top five oil companies in the first quarter of FY 2011 alone) rail against the prospect of losing their taxpayer subsidies or complain about post-BP spill safety measures, Rep. Cummings argues that the Oversight & Government Reform committee would better serve Americans by turning its attention to speculators:

 

With gas prices skyrocketing to more than $4 per gallon, it is time to stop focusing on advancing the priorities and profits of oil companies and instead find ways to give American consumers relief at the pump. I call on Chairman Issa to stand with consumers and conduct a responsible, bipartisan investigation into the impact of excessive speculation on high gas prices.

 

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • Excessive oil speculation could be inflating gas prices by as much as 30%; the single most significant opportunity to reduce gas prices is to counter excessive speculation.
  • Expanded domestic drilling or eliminating post-BP oil spill safety measures would have negligible impact on gas prices.
  • Drilling is not the problem – post BP,  the Administration has approved 14 deepwater drilling permits, 55 shallow water permits, and two new exploration plans.
  • In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the oil business is the most profitable industry in the world. The top 5 oil companies reported profits of $31 billion in the first quarter of FY 2011, a 32.6% increase over the first quarter of 2010.
  • Eliminating tax subsidies could save more than $43 billion over the next 10 years, and foregoing the collection of market-rate royalties from companies that drill in the Gulf costs taxpayers up to $53 billion.

OGR committee chairman Darrell Issa now has an excellent opportunity to hold a hearing that could help the American people instead of his corporate friends – let’s see if he comes through.

PFAW

On Climate Change, Oil Industry Pays for Its Own Facts and Its Own Religious Doctrine

Recently a group of climate change skeptics released a list of “900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of 'Man-Made' Global Warming (AGW) Alarm." But where did those 900+ papers come from? GOOD reports that of the ten authors cited most frequently in the list, nine have financial ties to ExxonMobil.

It’s hardly news that the oil and gas industry is pouring money into research dismissing the threat of climate change. But the extent of its influence continues to be staggering. Last month, we reported on the oil industry’s wildly successful underwriting of the Religious Right’s embrace of climate change denialism. In response to some prominent evangelical leaders joining the “creation care” movement, which see environmental protection as an imperative for those who want to protect God’s creation, energy company-backed groups are joining with prominent Religious Right leaders to push a gospel that mandates human exploitation of our natural habitat.

In a relatively short amount of time, the oil and gas industry has managed to buy both its own body of questionable scientific research and its own gospel of environmental exploitation.

Here, for a refresher, is the Religious Right’s response to climate science and creation care:

 

PFAW

House Committee Shills for Fracking, Despite the Risks

This Friday, Darrel Issa’s House Oversight & Government Reform Committee will be holding a field hearing in Bakersfield, California, where several lobbyists who have made substantial contributions to members of the committee will argue against regulating “fracking,” or Hydraulic Fracturing. This technique for harvesting natural gas from deep within the Earth’s crust requires millions of gallons of water and thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical mixture—the contents of which the industry refuses to disclose.

PFAW has put together a fact sheet which details the dangers of fracking as well as the vast web of corporate cash that is influencing the committee’s actions—with potentially serious consequences to our health and the environment. You can view the fact sheet here.

PFAW