THE BALANCE SHEET for December 22, 2011 

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

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

WHAT MORATORIUM? GULF LEASE SALE BRINGS IN $337 MILLION

Last Wednesday, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) continued its work to increase offshore energy development by holding the first gulf-area lease sale since the BP disaster last year. BOEMRE put 21 million acres up for auction. Companies put in more than $700 million in total bids, and the U.S. Treasury walks away with a cool $337 million in high bids.

KEYSTONE DEAL FAILS TO DELIVER

On Saturday, the Senate made a deal to protect American families by safeguarding the payroll tax cut for another couple of months – but only after Senate Republicans won a provision to force President Obama to decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline almost a year before all the research into its safety is complete. But not even that giveaway was enough to satisfy House Republicans who refuse to support the compromise and continue to press for more negotiations.

SAVING INDUSTRY AND THE SAGE GROUSE

The Interior Department convened a meeting with Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, praising Wyoming’s approach to protect core habitat for the sage grouse. The prairie bird once numbered at 16 million now has a population of 500,000 – half of which live in Wyoming. Interior is looking to take the approach west wide in hopes of staving off a listing under the Endangered Species Act. The approach is critical for facilitating future energy development and saving the sage grouse.

DID YOU KNOW?

KEYSTONE – A NET LOSER OF JOBS

There is no shortage of controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline, including whether the project actually creates jobs. According to a Cornell University Global Labor Institute report, industry job projections have been shoddy at best and there would actually be job losses due to “additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change.  Even one year of fuel price increases as a result of Keystone XL could cancel out some or all of the jobs created by the project.”

According to Business Insider, the project would reduce unemployment among construction workings by a mere 0.1 percentage points.

BIG OIL’S RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Needless to say, it was a big year for Big Oil. Not only did companies rake in record profits topping $101 billion in the first three quarters of the year, they continue to receive $15 billion in Americans tax dollars through government handouts. The industry spent big bucks to protect their taxpayer-funded handouts and contributed about $6.3 million to members of the House and Senate. Despite White House efforts to end corporate welfare to oil companies and use the savings to help close the deficit, Congress preserved $78 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies over the next five years.

COMING UP

Will House Republicans actually hold-up a Senate Republican victory for Big Oil and the Keystone XL pipeline provision all for political posturing? We’ll find out this week.

CONTACT

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

THE BALANCE SHEET | December 14, 2011

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

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND THE WEST

Drilling activity is at its highest level in 24 years, and the U.S. is about to see a full year of net oil exports for the first time in 62 years. So naturally some energy companies are worried that their arguments for cutting red tape might start falling on deaf ears. According to a story by Wyofile and Standford’s Rural West Initiative, Chesapeake Energy and other oil and gas companies are now talking about their own domestic energy plans, which include shipping American energy overseas. The Checks and Balances Project’s Matt Garrington set the record straight that the current push to end common sense land, water, and air protections is all about a western land grab.

ANOTHER PIPELINE, ANOTHER REASON TO TAKE A SECOND LOOK

In a surprise decision late Tuesday evening, the joint review panel charged with the fate of the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline extended the schedule nearly a year. According to the Vancouver Sun, the three-member panel is waiting the release of an environmental assessment report coming out in the fall of 2013. The added time is an important step for protecting the health of North American families and our environment, especially following the recent second take of the Keystone XL pipeline.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

This Saturday, the Checks & Balances Project made the case for why Rep. Doug Lamborn’s PIONEERS Act and Speaker John Boehner’s plan to fund our nation’s transportation infrastructure from oil shale are full of hot air. Joining us was local energy analyst and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas-USA Steve Andrews. Read their guest column in Rep. Lamborn’s hometown paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

A NEGATIVE MEANS POSITIVE – WHEN IT COMES TO OIL IMPORTS

The Wall Street Journal writes that the United States is on track to become a net oil exporter this year for the first time in 62 years. According to the Energy Information Administration, net imports of petroleum products have steadily declined from September 2010 to September 2011:

COMING UP

In the wake of the Super Committee’s failure, with a government funded bill on the line and a middle-class tax cut at stake, oil-and-gas funded members of the House and an army of 42 lobbying firms are holding hostage the economic welfare of millions of Americans in order to push forward the Keystone Pipeline proposal. This week we’ll get to see what’s most important to Washington politicians – that American families can afford to keep a roof over their heads or that Big Oil can bring oil down from Canada and then export North American energy out of the country.

 

CONTACT

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

THE BALANCE SHEET | December 06, 2011

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

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

U.S. IS EXPORTING OIL

According to The Wall Street Journal, the United States is set to become a “net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.” The report comes at time when oil and gas activity is the highest any point since the Reagan Administration. This calls into question that more domestic oil production means more energy independence. Right now, excess supply is going to our neighbors and not lowering gas prices here in the U.S.

INDUSTRY-BACKED CANDIDATES FOR THE WIN

Checks and Balances Project has been investigating the gas-industrial complex of Garfield County, Colo. As E&E News reports those political ties have made Judy Jordan a victim of the industry. Her bosses at Garfield County told her to be neutral but it become apparent that the gas industry ran the show. When it become clear that she was not meeting gas companies’ expectations she was replaced, and industry-backed candidate filled her seat.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER PIPELINE LEAK

In what is becoming an all-too-common trend, another pipeline is leaking. This time, it is a Suncor pipeline in Denver, Colo. The pipeline is leaking “black goo” into the Sand Creek and posing a dangerous threat to the environment and local citizens. The Checks and Balances Project has been following pipeline accidents over the past year and it is clear that the thousands of miles of aging pipelines crisscrossing the country are unstable. And now that a cleanup has been ordered, the tab will no doubt fall on the taxpayers to cover it.

BIG OIL BATS A THOUSANDS, AMERICANS PAY MORE AT THE PUMP

As The Hill puts it, the “oil industry is batting 1.000.” Despite budget debates, deficit concerns, the oil industry managed to preserve all of the tax breaks and subsidies handed out by Congress. It’s a wonder too, this year the big five oil companies raked in more than $100 billion in just the first three quarters of 2011. Meanwhile industry analysts are predicting gas prices could reach a record high in 2012, which means more cash in the pockets of the oil and gas industry.

DID YOU KNOW?

OIL SHALE A GAMBLE ON WATER SUPPLIES

Oil shale speculation in western states has long been heralded as the savior to our energy woes – despite 100 years of failure and billions in taxpayer subsidies to turn oil shale rock into commercial oil. But the rock is also a gamble on water supplies. Should there ever be a technological breakthrough, there might not be the water for development. The BLM estimated that industrial scale oil shale could take as much 150% the amount of water currently used by the Denver Metro region. With western water supplies such as the Colorado River already stretched beyond their limits, it calls into question whether the water exists to ever make oil shale viable.

COMING UP

Speaking of water, on Thursday, December 8 the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on challenges to domestic and global water supply. We think the committee should consider the huge strain that energy development puts on our water – whether it be oil and gas fracking water demands, threats from oil shale speculation, or pollution occurring from poorly managed well sites on public lands in the Rockies.

CONTACT

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

THE BALANCE SHEET | November 23, 2011

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

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

OIL SHALE PROFESSOR SAYS LAMBORN’S BILL TOO MUCH, TOO SOON

Phil Taylor wrote a preview piece about oil shale for E&E News, ahead of Friday’s hearing on Rep. Lamborn’s Black Sunday Bill. In the piece, Phil quotes Professor Jeremy Boak, head of the Colorado School of Mines’ Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research – which is supported by the oil and gas industry – as saying: “It may be too soon to offer new leases before current research projects bear fruit.” And “It isn’t obvious to me yet that we need to be putting a bunch of commercial leases out there because no one has a commercial process yet. And [industry] admits that… I don’t see anybody eager to go out and lease land now when they’re still running experiments.”

E&E News is behind a paywall, so we can’t link to it, but if you have access it’s a great read.

HASTINGS MARCHES TO HIS OWN DRUMBEAT

The Public Lands Team at Think Progress posted an analysis of just how many times Doc Hastings and House Natural Resources Committee meeting have met to talk about drilling in and around the U.S. It turns out last week saw the committee’s 20th meeting on this topic.

Anyone want to hazard a guess on how many times during these 20 meetings in 11 months Hastings has acknowledged that U.S. drilling activity is higher now than at any time since Reagan was in office? Or that Big Oil has reported a whopping $100 billion in profits so far in 2011?

AFP: DISMANTLE THE EPA

DeSmogBlog reports that Charles and David Koch, the conservative ideologues who helped start AFP, “are the ones pulling the strings of the American elected officials who keep clamoring for an end to all environmental protections[.]”

DID YOU KNOW?

BLACK SUNDAY – TALK ABOUT A BAD ENERGY LOAN GUARANTEE

In 1981, the Reagan administration approved a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for Exxon’s Colony Oil Shale Project in western Colorado. One year later, on May 1, 1982 – Black Sunday – Exxon pulled the plug on the project. Overnight, more than 2,100 people lost their job and $85 million in local revenues dried up. Tens of thousands of people would later leave the region, devastating local economies.

Rep. Doug Lamborn’s “Black Sunday” Bill would fuel oil shale speculation on over 2 million acres of public lands, leaving more communities vulnerable to this sort of boom and bust impact.

COMING UP

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

CONTACT

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

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 | November 08, 2011

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

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

HUNTSMAN GETS IT HALF RIGHT

During a stump speech on the campaign trail, former governor and current Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman failed to address the facts of domestic oil and gas production. Huntsman didn’t mention that drilling activity is at the highest it has been since the Reagan administration, or that the U.S. has been a net exporter of petroleum products for the last year. The Checks and Balances Project’s Matt Garrington told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s unfortunate though that Huntsman calls for weakening air and water protections from drilling,”

PATTERN OF CONGRESSIONAL INFLUENCE FOUND IN EIA REPORTS

In the last week of October, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report commissioned by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) on a proposed clean energy standard. The parameters Rep. Hall set for this study were so flawed that the EIA had to develop new terms in order to distance itself from the report’s findings.

Unfortunately, Rep. Hall is not the first oil and gas investment to rig a report by handcuffing the EIA with limited parameters. The Checks and Balances Project released a set of emails from the EIA, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, that demonstrates this disturbing pattern.

$540K SPENT ON LOBBYING FOR KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

DeSmog Blog reports that TransCanada spent $540,000 to lobby politicians during 2011’s third quarter. The money flowed through TransCanada’s in-house lobbyist, Paul Elliott, and two lobbying firms that have ties to Hillary Clinton.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

BIG OIL Q3 PROFITS

The Big 5 released their third quarter profits at the end of October, bringing their total to $100 billion dollars so far this year. Keep in mind, these same companies are crying about having to pay their fair share in taxes and spending millions campaigning against efforts to convince the Super Committee to cut $15 billion a year in special tax breaks.

Company 2011 Q3 Profits 2010 Q3 Profits
ExxonMobil $10.33 billion (+41%) $7.35 billion
Royal Dutch Shell $6.98 billion (+101%) $3.46 billion
BP $4.9 billion (+172%) $1.8 billion
ConocoPhilips $2.62 billion (-14%) $3.06 billion
Chevron $7.83 billion (+49%) $3.8 billion

 

COMING UP

EXXONMOBIL WANTS TO RAISE YOUR HEATING AND ELECTRIC BILLS

On Tuesday, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the concerning trend of new facilities being developed for exporting natural gas. Oil and gas companies stand to benefit big by exporting American natural gas to markets in China and elsewhere, raising natural gas prices and increasing heating and electric bills here at home.

 

CONTACT

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

THE BALANCE SHEET | Oct 25, 2011

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

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

NEXT API AND EXXONMOBIL WILL BE COUNTING LEMONADE STANDS

The Washington Post’s Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang looked at API’s questionable use of “induced” jobs in their claims of job creation. For instance, API includes valets, day-care providers and librarians in their reckoning. It’s a great example of why, according to economist, consultant and retired professor of management at the University of Calgary’s business school Philip K. Verleger, “The API is the best there is at lying with statistics.” Read the story.

TIDAL WAVE OF CAMPAIGNS HIT WESTERN STATES ON OIL AND GAS SUBSIDIES

Grassroots groups across the political spectrum from budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense to Environment Washington have been working feverishly for the last few months to see an end to government handouts to the oil and gas industry. Last week, Taxpayers launched radio ad campaigns in Washington and Colorado calling for an end to government handouts. Meanwhile, Environment Washington toured the Puget Sound area – including Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle – with a mobile billboard reading, “Big Oil gets tax break$ – We get the pollution.”

HOW TO MAKE FRACKING COOL

Just a few short weeks ago the Colorado Oil & Gas Association was described as having its collective “ass kicked” when it came to hydraulic fracturing. The head of the state industry association said its problem is that it is not on Facebook and not watching enough South Park. Really. The Checks and Balances Project imagined what a fracking insider’s Facebook profile might look like. As you can see it may solve all of the industry’s public relations nightmares.

FRACKING UNDERMINES MORTGAGES

For the more than one million Americans who have been offered cash for the right to hydraulically fracture their property, The New York Times investigation highlights their biggest fears: devalued property and potential defaults. Ian Urbina’s story, which went to print on October 20th, points out that deals offered to landowners for drilling rights may be in direct conflict with the mortgage agreements between banks and citizens.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

DOMESTIC ENERGY PRODUCTION AT RECORD HIGH

Oil and gas politicians are trying desperately to avoid mentioning the facts about our current, domestic energy production.

  • There are now more active drill rigs than under the last three Presidents and more than the second half of President Reagan’s second term.
  • Domestic crude oil production is higher now under President Obama than when President Bush left office.

Read more.

 

COMING UP THIS WEEK

BIG OIL ANNOUNCES Q3 PROFITS

Big Oil has amassed $67.4 billion in profits the first six months of this year. Now it’s time to find out how they did in the third quarter. The question is what effect these numbers will have on the Super Committee’s decision regarding the billions in government handouts these same companies collect every year.

Schedule

  1. BP (BP): Tuesday, Oct. 25
  2. ConocoPhillips (COP): Wednesday, Oct. 26
  3. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS): Thursday, Oct. 27
  4. ExxonMobil (XOM): Thursday, Oct. 27
  5. Chevron (CVX): Friday, Oct. 28

 

CONTACT

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

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