A Texas congressional delegation, led by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, wrote Interior Secretary David Bernhardt requesting a big oil bailout according to reporting by the Houston Chronicle. Rep. Crenshaw has hauled in over $200,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry throughout his political career. The letter asked Sec. Bernhardt and the Interior Department to reduce royalty rates on oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, foreshadowing potential action by the department.
“Taxpayers have been fleeced time and time again by big oil corporations. It’s disappointing to see politicians like Rep. Crenshaw – who have filled their campaign coffers with dirty oil money – show more concern for the bottom-line of billionaire oil tycoons and big oil corporations than workers and everyday Americans,” said Jayson O’Neill, Director of Western Values Project. “The misguided priorities of elected officials like Rep. Crenshaw are on full display during this national health and economic crisis.”
Rep. Crenshaw (TX-R02) taken $210,755 from the oil and gas industry, including donations from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), American Petroleum Institute, Halliburton, Continental Resources, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and Marathon Petroleum according to campaign reports. The Congressman has even taken in personal donations from oil tycoons Kelcy Warren and Harold Hamm.
Speculation about a major oil and gas bailout by the Trump administration has run rampant during the coronavirus national health emergency and accompanying economic crisis. Western Values Project previously exposed the administration’s big oil bailout plan that may already be in the works. The administration’s potential big oil bailout plan includes reducing royalty rates and expediting permitting.
While Interior has yet to release a comprehensive coronavirus plan or plans regarding bailouts for extractive corporations, public lease sales, public comment periods, and policy decisions have plowed forward despite requests to suspend action during the crisis. The Gulf oil and gas lease sale held this week was described by one analyst as ‘horrible,’ and was one of the lowest since gulf-wide sales began. The Bureau of Land Management is still planning on holding public lands oil and gas lease sales next week in Montana, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada.
Today, House National Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raul Grijalva pressed congressional leaders to resist requests to bail out the coal industry as part of the response after a request by the industry’s lobbying association. Previously, Grijalva pressed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director William Pendley for answers on why the administration is planning to prioritize oil industry bailouts over the public’s immediate needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic – and still has received none.
Ongoing, long-term subsidies enjoyed by the oil industry such as low royalty rates have been celebrated and continued within the Trump administration, unabated. Under the already grossly outdated royalty rate, taxpayers have lost $12.4 billion in revenue from oil and gas drilling on federal lands over the last decade according to a recent study by Taxpayers for Common Sense. The royalty reduction request by the Texas congressional delegation comes after oil industry billionaires like Harold Hamm are pleading with the administration for another taxpayer-funded handout.