oil

Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) — the controversial horizontal drilling technique used to extract oil and gas in shale basins around the U.S. and the world — has sat at the center of the debate over the Democratic Party's draft platform set for a vote at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) convention in Philadelphia July 25-28.

That platform was drafted and debated by a 15-member committee, with four members chosen by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, five by Bernie Sanders and six by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. After a fracking moratorium clause failed in a 7-6 vote at the DNC Platform Committee meeting held in St. Louis, Missouri from June 24-25, an amendment calling for President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan not to incentivize fracked gas power plants also did not pass at the July 8-9 DNC Platform Committee meeting held in Orlando, Florida.

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that two members of the committee chosen by Hillary Clinton work for a consulting, lobbying and investment firm with a financial stake in fracking. Those members — Carol Browner and Wendy Sherman — work for Albright Stonebridge Group. Clinton campaign energy policy adviser Trevor Houser, who introduced a regulate fracking amendment (introduced as a counter to the one calling for a ban) also has industry ties via his fellowship at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.  

Taxpayer Groups, Environmentalists, Students Call on Congress to End $4 Billion Annual Oil Industry Subsidies

In an open letter sent to Congress today, a coalition of 40 national taxpayer, labor, environmental and other groups called on the federal government to repeal almost $4 billion in annual tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, calling them wasteful and lambasting Congress for subsidizing activities that will make climate change worse.

The groups called on Senators to support the FAIR Energy Policy Act, which would slowly phase out nine special tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.

“Oil companies receive billions in tax breaks, despite being among the world’s largest and most profitable corporations,” the groups wrote. “For too long, America has subsidized the oil industry’s bottom line at middle class Americans’ expense.”

Another law passed earlier this year revokes the wind industry's production tax credit, and the FAIR Energy Policy Act would wind down some of the oil industry's subsidies on the same schedule.

If we are phasing out tax credits for clean energy—something I oppose—then why are we still committing to permanently support the fossil fuel industries with tax preferences they don’t need?” said Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who sponsored that bill.  “It is based on the very simple idea that there should be a level playing field for fossil fuels and clean energy.”

Inside Shell’s PR Strategy To Position Itself As A ‘Net-Zero Emissions’ Leader

A leaked marketing strategy document prepared by oil behemoth Shell and revealed by EnergyDesk shows that Shell hopes to build brand loyalty, especially amongst young people, by repositioning itself as a leader in building a carbon neutral economy — even while the company plans to do nothing to actually rein in emissions from its operations or its product.

The document was intended as a briefing for public relations firms applying to handle an “Energy Transitions” marketing campaign centered around a net-zero emissions narrative for Shell.

According to the document, “Ultimately, the content shouldn’t focus on the challenges of today, but the solutions of tomorrow — showing that net-zero is possible but a ‘patchwork of solutions’ are required across different sectors;

  • Buildings & Lifestyle
  • Tranport
  • Power
  • Industry”

There is no specific mention of how fossil fuel industry business models will have to evolve to achieve a carbon neutral future, though the document states “It can be driven by carbon pricing” and repeatedly emphasizes carbon capture and sequestration as a key technology for transforming transport, power and industry.

How IOGCC Spawned the Lawsuit That Just Overturned BLM Fracking Regulations on Public Lands

In a ruling on the Obama Administration's proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on U.S. public lands, U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming Judge Scott Skavdahl — a President Obama appointee — struck down the rules as an illegal violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. 

Filed in March 2015 by first the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Western Energy Alliance and then the State of Wyoming (soon joined by North Dakota, Utah and Colorado), the industry and state lawsuits would soon thereafter merge into a single lawsuit. The merger symbolizes the origins of the lawsuit — the 2014 Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

Oil-Funded Groups Have Spent $2.7 Million To Defeat California Candidates Who Want Climate Action

Groups funded largely by oil companies have spent $2.7 million in California to defeat candidates for the state legislature who support strong climate action.

The groups are targeting lawmakers who supported S.B. 32 and S.B. 350, both pieces of legislation designed to rein in California’s greenhouse gas emissions and boost adoption of renewable energy technologies, E&E Publishing’s Greenwire reported.

S.B. 350, which was signed into law last year by Governor Jerry Brown, requires California to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings by 2030. S.B. 32, which did not pass, would have required the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“Oil companies are trying to push back” against renewable energy and other efforts to decarbonize California’s economy, Mike Young, California League of Conservation Voter's associate director for campaigns and organizing, told Greenwire. “You're seeing an industry that is very concerned about losing its monopoly.”

CA Officials Want To Allow Oil Industry To Dump Toxic Waste Into Aquifers, Exempt Them From Federal Protection

California officials announced on Wednesday that they will seek the exemption of as many as 60 underground aquifers from federal protections so that the oil industry can use them to dispose of toxic oilfield wastewater. 

Regulators with the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) said they will submit the necessary applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the next four months to exempt aquifers in Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties from federal laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In a statement issued in response to DOGGR’s plan, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which has put together an interactive map of the aquifers in question, noted that “Oil wastewater commonly contains cancer-causing benzene and other pollutants, according to [DOGGR]’s own testing. Flowback fluid coming out of fracked wells in California contains benzene at levels as high as 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water, according to oil companies’ own tests.”

Oil Investors: Now Is Probably The Time To Get Your Money Into Electric Cars

Even if you haven’t been convinced by the rock-bottom price of oil or the divestment movement and the risks of climate change to get your money out of oil investments, you may want to pay attention to what’s going on right now with electric cars.

The age of plug-in electric cars is swiftly approaching. Chevy, Nissan, and Tesla plan to soon start selling electric cars in the $30,000 price range that can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. Tesla’s Model S already outsells the competition in the large luxury class in the US.

BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, and virtually every other major car manufacturer are all looking to get in on the electric vehicle game too, and are investing billions. Even tech giants Apple and Google are hoping to develop the next hot electric car.

As Bloomberg puts it, “This is a problem for oil markets.”

California Regulators Are Approving Fracking Wastewater Disposal Permits Near Fault Lines

New research indicates that nearly 40 percent of new wastewater injection wells approved over the past year in California are perilously close to fault lines, increasing the risk of man-made earthquakes in the already seismically active Golden State.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) found that 13 out of 33, or 39 percent, of new drill permits for wastewater disposal wells issued by regulators with California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) between April 2015 and March 2016 were for drill sites within 5 miles of a fault.

The CBD also found that 26 of the 33 rework permits for wastewater disposal wells granted by DOGGR over that same period were for wells within 5 miles of a fault. Rework permits are required when a company wants to re-drill a well or alter a well casing.

Feds Rely On Industry-Funded Study To Push For More Offshore Oil Exploitation

On Monday, April 25th, President Barack Obama tweeted out the following message to nearly 74 million followers on Twitter:
 

The tweet garnered thousands of shares and likes, and on the surface it appeared to be a genuine plea for action on climate change. But as we’ve seen all too often from this administration, what they say in public rarely matches what takes place behind closed doors.
 
Less than one day after President Obama tweeted out that message on climate change, David Sirota and Ned Resnikoff from the International Business Times aimed a spotlight at the Obama administration’s hypocrisy in an investigative piece that exposed again the fossil fuel industry's influence over our government. Prior to that, the Public Accountability Initiative had revealed the massive influence that the industry had over the government's assessment of the economic impacts of offshore drilling.

Groups Call On Obama To End Crude Oil Exports In Wake Of Paris Climate Agreement Signing

175 nations signed the Paris Climate Agreement last Friday, setting a record for the most countries to sign a U.N. agreement on opening day.

Earlier in the week, even before Secretary of State John Kerry officially signed on behalf of the U.S. with his granddaughter in his lap, more than 300 environmental, faith, health and social justice organizations filed a legal petition calling on the Obama Administration to declare a national emergency and end all U.S. crude oil exports as a means of meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

According to the groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch, President Obama could immediately halt the export of crude oil under executive legal authority granted to him by the 2016 Appropriations Act and the National Emergencies Act.

Pages

Subscribe to oil