Hypocrisy alert: Big oil CEOs rake in big bucks while fighting to pay their fair share

Over and over again, we’ve heard industry CEOs allege that their industry just can’t afford to adopt minor reforms to stop oil and gas waste on public land. But while Big Oil companies fight to block common-sense reforms— like charging a royalty on the gas that is vented and flared—many of them are lining their own pockets with big profits.

New Mexico leads the county in wasted natural gas, about $100 million worth each year, and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) continues to lobby aggressively against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed regulation to reduce natural gas venting, flaring, and leaks citing job losses and prohibitive economic costs.

Even as NMOGA’s argument of the burdening costs to producers has been debunked and the budding methane mitigation industry provides well-paying jobs to thousands of Americans– NMOGA continues to argue against taxpayer-friendly regulations. But why?

You guessed it: To protect their own bottom lines.

Public records show 13 NMOGA CEOs collectively made $139.5 million in salaries, bonuses, and stocks last year. At a time of an economic downturn, low oil prices, and massive employee layoffs, these CEOs brought in nearly $28 million in bonuses!

Fiscal year 2015 CEO compensation for NMOGA board member companies (data from public company records or US Securities & Exchange Commission proxy statements).

New Mexico politicians backed by big oil are standing with CEOs in the way of reform

The bankrolling doesn’t stop with the CEOs opposing reform to oil and gas development on public lands. New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner, Aubrey Dunn has vocalized his disagreement with BLM’s fiscally smart regulations. Perhaps, Mr. Dunn’s financial ties to industry has clouded his judgment for a rule that would clearly benefit New Mexico’s taxpayers – the very people he was elected to lead.

In 2014 alone, candidate Dunn received nearly $100,000 from individuals and companies in the oil and gas industry, representing nearly 27% of his contributions. Contributions to Dunn even came from the heart of the Texas oilfields! No wonder Dunn “strenuously objects” to BLM’s proposed rule; he is obviously protecting his best interests.


Contributions to Aubrey Dunn during 2014 election campaign from individuals and companies with ties to the oil and gas industry (data from www.followthemoney.org).

New Mexico politicians and big oil company CEOs should be looking out for the very people and communities they’ve made their millions from, as well as capturing and selling every bit of the natural resources they are mining. Fortunately, the BLM is stepping in with a reasonable set of reforms to help meet these needs – something for which they deserve our thanks.

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