The Chamber’s Big Love for Big Oil

In today’s installment of “least-surprising-news-ever from the U.S. Chamber,” the Chamber, again, stands up for Big Oil.

Yesterday, the Chamber released its key vote letter staunchly opposing legislation that would cut government subsides to Big Oil companies to help pay off the deficit.  After whining that the law would punish Big Oil corporations, calling it “punitive taxation,” the Chamber shook its mighty fist and warned that the vote could be counted in its annual scorecard.  Today, around 6:15pm, the Senate will have a roll call vote on the motion to proceed to vote on this legislation, S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act.

In case you've forgotten, here are some of the other ways the Chamber gives Big Love to Big Oil. 

U.S. Chamber Prioritizes Tax Breaks For Oil Companies Even When That Support Conflicts With Other Policy Priorities. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed an amendment to repeal the 1099 reporting provisions in the Affordable Care Act because it was paid for by raising taxes on the five biggest oil companies. The U.S. Chamber called the 1099 provision “an unprecedented burden on small business reporting and paper work requirements at a time when they can least afford it,” but they opposed the amendment to repeal it proposed by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) which paid for the bill by repealing the portion of the tax code that applied to the five largest oil companies with more than $1 billion of before-tax income.” [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Letter to Congress, 9/9/10; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Press Release, 11/29/10; American Public Health Association]

The Five Biggest Oil Companies That Would Have Experienced These Tax Hikes Are All Connected To The U.S. Chamber:

  • Exxon Mobil (Q1 2011 Profits: $10.7 Billion): Exxon Mobil was represented on the board of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), according to the ILR’s 2009 IRS Form990.
  • Royal Dutch Shell (Q1 2011 Profits: $6.9 Billion): Among other connections, in 2010, the U.S. Chamber filed anamicus brief defending Shell in a multi-million dollar punitive damages case.
  • BP (Q1 2011 Profits: $7.1 Billion): BP is a member of the Chamber and the Chamber lobbied on its behalf after the company’s devastating April 2010 oil spill.
  • Chevron (Q1 2011 Profits: $6.2 Billion): Chevron is a member and a donor to the U.S. Chamber. Chevron gave the Chamber an amount of $250,000 in both 2008 and 2009.
  • ConocoPhillips (Q1 2011 Profits: $3.03 Billion): Conoco Phillips is represented on the Chamber’s board.

U.S. Chamber Encouraged Oil Price Speculation Despite Goldman Sachs’ Admission that it Was Driving Up Oil Prices. The U.S. Chamber has supported and taken efforts to encourage oil price speculation despite a recent report by Goldman Sachs that it was driving up the price of oil. During the summer of 2008, as gas prices soared passed $3 a gallon, the U.S. Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, opposed efforts to pass legislation that would’ve cracked down on oil price speculation. Instead, Josten – representing the narrow interests of the U.S. Chamber’s oil industry members – called for more domestic drilling. [“Letter Opposing Cloture on S. 3268, the ‘Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008,’ and S. 3186, the ‘Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act,’” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Website, 7/24/08, accessed 5/16/11; “S. 3268, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008,” Democratic Policy Committee website, 7/16/08, accessed 5/16/11]

U.S. Chamber Prioritizes Fossil Fuels Over What It Calls “High-Cost” Renewable Energy. In an interview with the Hill, Karen Harbert, the president of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy questioned the funding of “high-cost” renewable energy projects. She said, “Can we, in the economic times in which we find ourselves, continue to fund the type of research and development and the types of monies that were spent in the stimulus package on very high-cost energy sources?” Instead, Harbert recommended a focus on off-shore oil drilling, saying “It would be a huge mistake if the administration or the Congress or a combination of the two were to regulate or overtax the ability of industry to participate in offshore exploration.” [The Hill, 1/10/11]

U.S. Chamber Goes So Far as to Support Resource Development in Protected Lands. The U.S. Chamber made a pitch to have the government tap more natural resources on federal lands in order to create jobs and increase federal revenue. The organization made its case in ‘An Open Letter to the President of the United States, the United States Congress and the American People’ and a speech by its president and CEO, Tom Donohue. The U.S. Chamber argued “that opening national forest land that is currently closed to timber harvesting and developing inactive oil, gas and shale leases could generate trillions of dollars in royalties.” [Politico, 7/21/10]

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