Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been all over the place when it comes to ending the multi-billion dollar subsidies that the oil industry receives every year. While he has publicly admitted that he is in favor of ending this “corporate welfare,” and his staff has claimed that his budget plan actually calls for an end to oil subsidies, the truth is that Rep. Ryan would never end oil subsidies because he makes a lot of money keeping the welfare spigot open.
The oil industry currently receives $4 billion in subsidies from the federal government, and receives more than $4.4 billion in tax breaks every year, bringing their total government handouts to more than $8 billion every year. Some estimates actually put the total number closer to $35 billion a year.
According to a new report by Joe Romm at Climate Progress, Paul Ryan and his family have a financial stake in some of the companies that receive these oil subsidies.
“What we have only just learned from Ryan’s financial disclosure forms for Congress that were made public this week is “he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan.”
Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
Some of these firms would be eligible for portions of the $45 billion in energy tax breaks and subsidies over 10 years protected in the Wisconsin lawmaker’s proposed budget. “Those [energy developing companies] benefit a lot from these subsidies,” explained Russ Harding, an energy policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, when presented with the situation, without reference to Ryan. “Without those, they’re going to be less profitable.”
To ethics watchdogs, Ryan’s effort to extend the tax breaks creates the potential appearance of a conflict of interest.
Over the course of his career, Ryan has raked in more than a quarter million dollars from polluters in the oil and gas industries and the coal industry. As a whole, the oil and gas industry has spent more than $1 billion on lobbying and political donations since 1998.
Even if his family wealth wasn’t directly tied to dirty energy welfare, his campaign cash from polluters ensures that fossil fuel interests can count on Ryan to protect their subsidies through his power position as the Chairman of the House Budget Committee.