Republicans are the default choice for oil and gas dollars, having received 88 percent of the industry’s political contributions in 2011. In return, House and Senate Republicans block regulations the industry deems a potential threat.
In an April 23 e-mail acquired by National Journal, a staffer for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called on the industry to utilize their partnership to coordinate attacks on the White House:
Senate Republicans, who led a successful fight this spring against Obama’s proposal to repeal billions of dollars in tax subsidies enjoyed by major oil companies, felt betrayed by the industry’s collaboration with the White House on fracking regulations. The e-mail to top oil and gas lobbyists made that unhappiness clear, and it suggested that the industry was being duped.
“Moving forward, we—your partners—would kindly ask for better coordination and communication from you to prevent the Obama administration from pulling similar stunts in the future,” wrote Inhofe aide David Banks in the 800-word e-mail to two dozen lobbyists.
Some lobbyists apparently “cringed” at the wording. But coordinated attacks on behalf of Big Oil interests are nothing new, even if lawmakers don’t usually use such frank language. A host of EPA pollution regulations have faced congressional opposition, including Inhofe’s resolution to prevent new limits on mercury pollution in power plants. Inhofe, a well-known climate denier, is also one of the top recipients of oil and gas contributions with well over $1 million for his career.
Earlier this year, the Republican-Big Oil partnership played out in the Senate’s vote on oil subsidies, when 47 Senators — mostly Republican — blocked the vote. Those Senators received over four times the oil and gas money than lawmakers supporting an end to the oil industry’s permanent tax breaks.
Inhofe responded to the leaked e-mail: “Those wouldn’t have been my words,” Inhofe said. “I wasn’t aware that he was sending that.” However, asked whether he would not consider himself to be an industry partner, Inhofe replied, “I didn’t say that. I just said that’s not the word I would have used.”‘