Sun, 2015-01-11 06:00Guest
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Subsidy Spotlight: Utah Land Defenders Stand Up To Dirty Politics

This is a guest post by Anna Simonton, on assignment with Oil Change International | Part 2 of 2

Lauren Wood grew up in a family of river guides in the Uinta Basin region of Utah. She navigates tributaries of the Colorado River like her urban counterparts navigate subway systems. She learned to ride a horse, and then drive a car, on the Tavaputs Plateau. And she can name most any gorge or gully in the place she calls home.

Sat, 2015-01-10 06:00Guest
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Subsidy Spotlight: Publicly Funding a Utah Disaster in the Making

This is a guest post by Anna Simonton, on assignment with Oil Change International | Part 1 of 2

A green stegosaurus graces the logo of Uintah County, Utah, a gateway to the famed Dinosaur National Monument, where breathtaking landscapes and fossils preserved in sandstone attract thousands of visitors every year.

That logo has taken on new meaning over the past decade as prehistoric remains have attracted a different crowd. Now oil and gas executives are flocking to the Uinta Basin in Eastern Utah, as new technologies––and support from the government––offer the dubious possibility of digging up the region’s vast deposits of oil shale and tar sands.

Fri, 2015-01-09 16:42Guest
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Keystone XL Vote Analysis: House Proves Who They Serve

This is a guest post by Matt Maiorana, cross-posted with permission from Oil Change International. 

2015 is already bringing new challenges — including a congress that’s set on ignoring climate science and fighting for the fossil fuel industry instead of the American people.

One of their first acts of business has been an attempt to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite President Obama stating that he’ll veto the legislation. This hasn’t stopped pro-oil legislators from pushing the issue forward and it’s clear why.

We crunched the numbers and found that in today’s Keystone XL vote, members of the House of Representatives who voted ‘yes’ on approving the pipeline took a combined total of over $13 million dollars from the Oil and Gas industry in 2014 ALONE.

Compared to members of the House voting against the pipeline, they took 8.5x more money on average. And this doesn’t even include all the ‘dark money’ being spent by the fossil fuel industry in the most recent elections.

Fri, 2015-01-09 16:00Farron Cousins
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New Senate Majority Puts Keystone XL At The Top Of To-Do List

The Republican Party now controls the legislative branch of the U.S. government, but even before they were sworn in, they had made their priorities for the country clear. They want the Keystone XL Pipeline to become a reality.

Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming appeared on Meet The Press to push the pipeline by quoting misleading and dishonest industry talking points: “[Obama’s] own State Department said it’s 42,000 new jobs…He’s going to have to decide between jobs and the extreme supporters of not having the pipeline.”

Barrasso is playing fast and loose with the facts here. As we pointed out years ago, the job numbers used to sell the pipeline are completely fabricated. For example, his claim that the State Department estimates 42,000 jobs from the pipeline has no basis in reality. The State Department has said that the pipeline will only create about 35 permanent U.S. jobs.

The 42,000 number that Barrasso is throwing around is based on the total number of direct and indirect permanent and temporary jobs that are estimated to be created by the pipeline. Almost all of these jobs would disappear within the span of 2 years.

But even if the 42,000 figure were accurate, it isn’t a substantial gain for the United States. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. economy adds an average of 50,000 new jobs every single week, so an $8 billion pipeline that traverses some of the most delicate environmental areas of the country is hardly worth the economic and environmental costs.

Fri, 2015-01-09 04:00Justin Mikulka
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Obama Admin's Year-End Gift to the Oil Industry Quietly Allows Light Oil Exports

In a quiet move in the last days of 2014 that involved zero public debate, the Obama administration gave a big gift to the oil industry by allowing the export of light crude oil. This change by the administration stands to make the industry a few extra billion dollars per year by allowing them to sell crude oil on the international market where it gets a higher price than if it is sold to U.S. refineries.

So what bill was passed at the last minute of 2014 overturning the 40-year-old crude oil export ban and allowing companies to now export fracked crude oil? None.

As The Hill reported, sources “familiar with the matter” don’t even consider this a “change in policy” and thus no legislation is required. 

No policy change, no legislation needed. The only thing that has changed is that the oil industry can now export unlimited amounts of crude oil, much of it currently procured via hydraulic fracturing.

So how does an industry overturn longstanding legislation that was designed to protect the U.S. economy from fluctuations in the global oil market? First, there are the normal industry channels of lobbying and advertising over the past year to influence public opinion and get the politicians to do their bidding. But that process is expected to take significantly more time and money to result in officially ending the crude oil export ban.

So if you are the oil industry, you innovate. You call the oil you are producing condensate, get the regulators at the little known Bureau of Industry and Security to agree to not define what condensate actually is and then have them tell you that you as an industry are free to “self classify” your oil as condensate and export it.

Problem solved. Billions in profits made. Politicians provided with cover. And then you let sources “familiar with the matter” tell Reuters that this has been “carefully couched” as an “informal suggestion.” 

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