Includes Former Registered Lobbyist for Industry Turned Portman Staffer
Western Values Project filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all communications between the Department of Interior and Senator Portman’s Office, including communications with a former registered lobbyist for American’s Natural Gas Alliance turned Portman staffer. The request comes after the Senator flip-flopped on his position on the methane waste rule. Senator Portman reportedly received concessions from the department after speaking to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“These concessions don’t pass the smell test. Taxpayers have the right to know what Secretary Zinke horse-traded away for this sweetheart deal,” said Western Values Project Director Chris Saeger.
Portman’s lead staffer on oil and gas issues was a former registered lobbyist for the industry on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) methane waste rule. Additionally, Sen. Portman received over $670,000 in direct campaign support from the oil and gas industry on top of the millions spent on his senate race by the Koch brothers and other outside groups.
“Ohio Senator Rob Portman never seems to shy away from doing a favor for the oil and gas industry. He even filled a key position on his staff with a registered lobbyist after receiving hundreds of thousands in campaign support. Ohioans have the right to know why Senator Portman is siding with special interests in a vote that will cost taxpayers millions,” said Saeger.
A survey by the policy group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), of which Sen. Portman is named as a ‘conservative leader on energy,’ found 80 percent of voters in Ohio support keeping the rule.
“Repealing the methane rule could cost taxpayers up to $800 million, so it’s no surprise that an overwhelming majority of Ohioans and Americans support this common-sense, waste prevention rule,” Saeger added.
Estimates found that $400 million in natural gas is vented, leaked or flared off by the industry yearly. Western Values Project’s own analysis revealed that it would cost taxpayers $800 million in potential royalties over the next decade if the rule is rescinded.