Entries in Oil (14)


Obama Ad Attacks Romney as Pawn of Big Oil

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s re-election campaign is joining an escalating air war over gas prices and oil subsidies with a new TV ad in several states attacking Mitt Romney as a defender of “Big Oil.”

The 30-second spot, airing in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, portrays Obama as under attack by wealthy oil companies and their allies who feel threatened by his calls to eliminate taxpayer subsidies and invest in new energy sources.

“In all these fights, Mitt Romney’s stood with Big Oil -- for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables,” the narrator says.

The ad also reacts to a $3.6 million ad campaign launched last week by the American Energy Alliance -- a nonprofit group with Republican ties -- that is sharply critical of the president for gas prices and his handling of the Keystone XL pipeline and the failed solar start-up Solyndra.

“When you see this ad,” the Obama ad says in response, “remember who paid for it.  And what they want.”

The American Energy Alliance is reportedly funded in part by billionaire oil magnates Charles and David Koch, though the group does not have to disclose its donors or say what they contributed.

“It’s no surprise President Obama is spending his soon-to-be $1 billion war chest to attack Mitt Romney and deflect blame for his failure to control gas prices,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the ad suggests Obama is “panicked” about the impact high gas prices may have on his re-election.

“Instead of implementing solutions, the president is once again trying to mislead voters with a negative attack ad in an attempt to get re-elected,” Kukowski said.  “So much for the hope and change the president promised.”

Obama’s new ad -- called “Remember” -- is his third of the 2012 election campaign and second on the topic of energy, responding directly to attacks by outside political groups.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senate Narrowly Rejects the Keystone Oil Pipeline Amendment

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s pipeline lobbying paid off...for now.

A controversial Republican amendment to a transportation bill, to mandate construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, has failed in the Senate.

The numbers may be a little too close for comfort for the White House: the amendment fell just short of the 60 votes needed for the amendment to be included in the final bill, at 56-42.

President Obama had personally lobbied Democrats, telephoning members of Congress directly to encourage them to reject the measure.

The amendment would have taken the pipeline’s approval process out of President Obama’s hands and mandated an expedited building of the pipeline project in light of the nation’s rising gas prices.

“The president obviously has communications with members of Congress with some regularity,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday, confirming the lobbying effort. “We have made our position clear about purely ideological and political efforts to attach legislation regarding the Keystone pipeline to whatever some members of Congress fancy at the time.”

This pressure from the president put many moderate Democrats, some of whom are running for re-election from oil producing states that would benefit from the pipeline, in tough positions with their vote Thursday.

Ultimately, eleven Democrats voted in favor of the pipeline provision, bucking the White House’s stance on the issue -- Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Not a single Republican voted against the measure. Sen. Kirk, R-Ill., and Sen. Thune, R-S.D., missed the vote.

This close vote will provide motivation for Republicans to keep pushing for the pipeline.

Moments after the vote Republicans vowed to keep fighting on this issue and said they were “heartened” by the 56 votes indicating that with work this could eventually get passed.

Republicans blamed President Obama for the failure of the measure.

“It was very strong words by President Obama himself making calls to the Democrats,” Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., said, "I suppose you can give credit to the president for once again blocking something."

“President Obama’s personal pleas to wavering Senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., said in a statement, “When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office.”

The amendment would have been part of the $109 billion transportation bill that Senators have been debating on for weeks. After a deal was reached Wednesday night and the vote on amendments was held Thursday it looks like the bill will be on track for final passage next week before the March 31 deadline for passage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Huntsman’s Cure for U.S.’s 'Heroin-Like Addiction to Foreign Oil'

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(DURHAM, N.H.) -- Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman delivered his energy policy speech Tuesday, just an hour after visiting the University of New Hampshire’s one-of-a-kind energy plant, which takes methane gas from a landfill and turns it into energy to power the campus.

While most of the other candidates displayed their different stances on energy tax credits and subsidies in Pella, Iowa, Tuesday, Huntsman chose to stick it out in New Hampshire and discuss getting rid of America’s “heroin-like addiction to foreign oil.”

Huntsman said 10 out of the last 11 recessions were preceded by sharp spikes in the cost of oil. Huntsman also said it was the doubling of oil prices that helped bring the U.S. economy to its knees three years ago.

Huntsman outlined three steps to “unshackle ourselves from the scourge of foreign oil”:

1.  Remove the regulatory constraints on the production of domestic energy.

“There is no reason drilling cannot be safely conducted in the Gulf, across the states and in Alaska,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman also supports the Keystone Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada into the U.S.

“Every barrel from a friend is one less from a foe,” Huntsman said.

2.  Level the playing field for competing fuels and end oil’s monopoly on transportation.

“I believe it’s time to let creative destruction loose in our energy sector,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman said the Obama administration issued fuel efficiency rules that bar heavy-duty vehicles from converting to natural gas. He also said the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed rules on vehicles converting to natural gas.

3. Make sure America leads in exploring the next generation of energy technologies.

“States are laboratories of innovation, yet federal rules handcuff them with red tape,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman said California leads the nation in geothermal and 15 percent of Iowa’s energy comes from wind.

Huntsman finished the speech by laying out three actions he will take on his first day in office if elected:

  • “I will direct my administration to clarify rules that ensure the safe and rapid expansion of offshore drilling and fracking.”
  • “I will move to open our fuel distribution network to all forms of energy, biofuels, natural gas and electricity.”
  • “I will systemically begin to eliminate every subsidy for energy companies, whether it be oil, natural gas, wind or solar.”

Huntsman was also sure to mention he drove a natural gas car as governor of Utah and built a system of natural gas fueling stations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Actress Daryl Hannah Arrested Outside White House

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Actress Daryl Hannah was arrested again Tuesday for protesting for an environmental cause. This time, Hannah was taken into police custody outside the White House during a protest urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

“We want to be free from our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. If Obama approves of this Keystone XL would be a disaster. These pipelines, it’s not 'if' it’s going to spill, it’s 'when' it’s going to spill,” Hannah told ABC moments before her arrest. “We cannot risk these precious resources and we cannot shackle ourselves to this type of destructive energy future when we have solutions available to us. We have American made, American grown, clean, safe energy.”

Hannah was arrested along with roughly 100 other protestors who sat on the sidewalk in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and refused repeated requests to move, violating the White House demonstration rules.

Tuesday’s protest was organized by the group Tar Sands Action, which claims the pipeline will pump 900,000 barrels a day of “the world’s dirtiest oil” from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas. The crowd outside the White House chanted “keep the tar sands in the soil, we don’t need your dirty oil,” as members of their group were hauled off by police.

Hannah and others believe the president is falling prey to special interests and the power of oil and gas lobbyists. “There are some powerful forces that want things to go their way and they’re the ones that have the loudest voices,” Hannah said. “If [President Obama] doesn’t do right by the American citizens, he will not be back in this office again.”

The actress, known for her roles in Splash and Wall Street, is an avid environmental activist and has been arrested several times in the past for issues ranging from coal mining to urban gardens.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Pounce on Oil Subsidies, Offshore Drilling

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is hustling into action mode as Americans grow increasingly agitated with high gasoline prices, but there are few signs of a bipartisan consensus.  Nor is there much indication that Washington can help with a problem that's being driven largely by global supply-and-demand economics.

The Senate on Wednesday will vote on a bill crafted by Republicans to expand offshore oil production.  The legislation -- expected to fail -- comes a day after an effort by Democrats to repeal roughly $2 billion a year in tax breaks for the five largest oil and gas conglomerates was also unsuccessful.

Separately, the Republican-dominated House has passed three bills that would expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

President Obama last week approved the extension of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off of Alaska's coast. However, his critics charge Obama's approvals are hollow, as he's assured the EPA will block any actual drilling.

None of these measures will provide a quick fix to the issue of high gasoline prices, and the various legislations amount to little more than political posturing, experts say.

"There is practically nothing that Washington can do to lower prices at the pump," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James, a financial advisory group.  "The reality is the price of fuel is overwhelmingly set by the global oil market, by supply-and-demand dynamics, geopolitical risks... It's not helpful for policymakers to pretend otherwise."

Even lawmakers have acknowledged that Congressional bills may have little impact on the price of oil today.

"We don't seem to learn from our mistakes," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said at a hearing Tuesday.  "Unless we have an energy policy...we're going to continue to go down this for the next 20 to 30 years.  We need to break this cycle."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reid 'Confident' Debt Deal Will Include Repeal of Big Oil Tax Breaks

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With the Democrats’ bill to scrap tax breaks for the five Big Oil companies set to go down to defeat Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes that any agreement to raise the country’s debt ceiling will include a repeal of the tax breaks.

“I am confident that before we finish our budget negotiations here in anticipation of raising the debt ceiling that that will be part of it,” Reid told reporters after the weekly party luncheons Tuesday.

“There’s no justification for continuing that and I am confident that the final budget negotiations, that will be in there,” he stated.

Reid also shrugged off the fact that the Democrats’ Big Oil bill was technically unconstitutional because – since it is a measure that would raise revenues – it needed to originate in the House, not the Senate.

“That’s the least of my worries,” Reid quipped.

In the build-up to Tuesday’s procedural vote, Republicans have voiced widespread opposition to the measure, while some Democrats have outlined why they too have broken with their party to oppose it.

“This is entertainment and it’s really not funny and it’s not laughable – it’s very serious,” warned Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu on the Senate floor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems Call for Investigation into Potential Price Fixing

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest move by Senate Democrats to target Big Oil for high gas prices, Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, on Tuesday called for the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into potential price fixing by oil refiners.

"The irony is we've got more rigs drilling domestically than we've had in many many years. We've got higher production than we've had for a long long time. But they’re exporting more and they're cutting back on their capacity to deliver more gasoline into the supply chain," McCaskill said at a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill. "Now that is very hard for me to understand."

"Price is way up and they're only operating at 81 percent. Is there a link?" asked Schumer.

"We want the administration to focus on this area right away," he emphasized.

The request for an FTC probe comes as the Senate is set to hold a procedural vote on the Democrats' bid to scrap tax breaks for the five Big Oil companies. Democrats want to cut around $2 billion a year in tax subsidies for the five companies -- Shell, Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips -- and use the savings to pay down the federal deficit.

However, the Democrats' bill appears poised to go down to defeat due to widespread Republican opposition -- and even some Democratic opposition from senators like Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Alaska's Mark Begich. Begich last week denounced the bill as "a gimmick" that his party’s leaders were using to make a "good political score," while Landrieu said the measure was "laughable." Critics charge the Obama administration is playing a shell game of sorts: announcing new drilling permissions the administration already knows the EPA will deliberately block by restricting permits to oil companies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Top Oil Executives Face Off with Lawmakers in Subsidy Battle

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Executives of the top five oil companies will testify before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday to explain why they need billions of dollars in subsidies when they are making record profits.

Some Democrats are opposed to the executives' request and have proposed a new bill called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, while will scrap $2 billion in tax subsidies each year for the five largest and most profitable oil companies and, in turn, apply the savings to paying down the federal deficit. 

John Watson, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Chevron Corporation; Marvin Odum, U.S. President of Shell Oil; H. Lamar McKay, Chairman and Presidnt of BP America Inc.; James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, are expected to attend the hearing to defend their need for subsidies.

Democrats will mostly likely face an uphill battle in passing their measure.  It will need 60 votes to advance, a long shot in a chamber where there are only 53 Democrats and even some of them -- like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu -- don’t support the measure.  Republicans have vociferously opposed the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to hold a vote on the subsidy issue sometime next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems Deplore Gas Companies Receiving Taxpayer Subsidies

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Standing before a gas station sign bearing a price tag of $4.29 per gallon on Capitol Hill, five Senate Democrats echoed the chorus calling on the five most profitable oil companies to forego the corporate subsidies designated to their companies.

“The sign behind us symbolizes two things.  It symbolizes how much the average American driver is paying,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “But it also symbolizes the record profits that the oil companies are making.  Plain and simple.  We all know that we have a huge deficit problem in America and to start off the first place most Americans would start is with the record profits the oil companies are making and saying to them, knowing that that they should not get a taxpayer subsidy to boot.

“I think the American people understand as they pay more at the pump, big oil makes more money,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., one of the sponsors of the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, said. “The American driver’s pain is big oil’s profit, but what really drives Americans crazy is that their own government is helping to subsidize what are very largely profitable companies.”

“Enough is enough,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, said. “Right now, people are paying as much for gas as they’re paying for their healthcare and almost as much as they’re paying to feed their families and put groceries in their home. Now’s the time to take away subsidies that aren’t needed that just add insult to injury because of what taxpayers are having to pay.”

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, Ben Cardin, D-MD, Menendez, Schumer and Stabenow sent a letter to the five largest oil companies -- BP America, ConocoPhillips, Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil, and Shell -- before their testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday, asking them to give up the subsidies and “pay a fair share toward reducing the deficit.”

“Tell the truth.  You don’t need this subsidy, and it ought to go to reducing the deficit,” Schumer said. 

The Democrats also urged Boehner to include the subsidies cut in the deficit reduction plan. Schumer told reporters after the press conference that there is “widespread support” in the Democratic caucus for the bill and a vote on the legislation is scheduled on the Senate floor for next Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems Call for End of Tax Breaks for Big Oil

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Three Senate Democrats unveiled a bill Tuesday to scrap some tax breaks for the five biggest and most profitable oil companies and pledged to turn over the savings from the proposed cuts to pay down the federal deficit.

The bill, known as the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, would cut about $2 billion per year in tax subsidies for the five biggest oil companies by eliminating the domestic manufacturing tax deduction and closing a loophole Democrats say “amounts to the U.S. government subsidizing foreign oil production.”

The sponsors of the legislation -- Sens. Robert Menendez, Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill (all of whom are up for reelection in November 2012) -- said the savings from their bill would go directly to deficit reduction, not reallocated for new spending.

While there is little appetite among Congressional Republicans to support what could be perceived as a vote to increase taxes, the confrontational move comes after House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News in an exclusive interview last month that oil companies deserve "some part of this to blame" for rising gasoline prices and that he believes reviewing oil subsidies is "certainly something we should be looking at." 

President Obama quickly wrote a letter to Congressional leadership encouraging both parties to "take immediate action” to clear the daunting legislative hurdle and “eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and use the dollars to invest in clean energy."

The Senate bill faces a tough battle as Democrats would not only have to secure votes from all 53 members in their caucus, but also seven Republicans as well.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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