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Lobbyists Ready To Own DC Again-- Or Own It More Than They Already Do

It’s 18 more days ’til election day and you can already hear the champagne corks being popped on K Street— and I’m talking about bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal, Krug Grande Cuvée and Dom Pérignon, not Segura Viudas, Jansz Premium and Mumm Napa. The now widely anticipated Republican victory isn’t just going to be a happy day for fascists and insurrections but also for corporate lobbyists who are sick and tired of the Democratic Party’s niggling and haggling.

And the gas and oil business lobbyists… who could be a happier bunch than those assholes? Yesterday, Eric Lipton reported that they’re “already working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to push back against what they consider the Biden administration’s anti-fossil-fuel agenda. The American Gas Association is helping lead the charge, taking aim in particular at a program that encourages homeowners to replace furnaces and stoves that use natural gas with electric-powered devices in the name of fighting climate change.”

So far this cycle, 11 gas and oil companies have each contributed over $2,000,000, all but one (Samson Energy) totally to Republicans:

  • Koch Industries- $15,123,096

  • Chevron- $7,336,075

  • Occidental Petroleum- $6,769,582

  • Samson Energy- $4,301,713

  • Energy Transfer LP- $3,626,326

  • American Petroleum Institute- $3,136,700

  • Ota Holdings- $3,000,000

  • Chief Oil & Gas- $2,266,000

  • Devon Energy- $2,247,199

  • Valero- $2,112,100

  • Pilot Corp- $2,031,151

Lipton reported that “A top lobbyist at the powerful trade association [the American Gas Association] told other gas industry executives at a conference late last month that the organization was preparing to team up with House Republicans to intensify oversight of the Energy Department, recalling Obama-era investigations by Republicans in Congress into Solyndra, a solar panel company that went bankrupt after receiving a federal loan guarantee. Their hope is to undercut a $4.5 billion program that will give rebates worth as much as $14,000 per household to low- and moderate-income families to install electric-powered heat pumps, water heaters, induction stoves and other devices that would in many cases replace appliances that use natural gas. The program is intended to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions from burning natural gas. But the gas industry considers it a major threat that could lead millions of families to drop natural gas as a home-heating source.”

The maneuvering by the lobbyists is an early example of how the influence industry is beginning to develop new strategies for the possibility that one or both chambers in Congress come under Republican control after the midterms.
With polling suggesting that Republicans have an especially good chance of capturing the House, trade associations, lobbyists and other special interests are honing plans to shape legislation and oversight to their advantage.
“Republicans are expected to retake the House of Representatives, and they are champing at the bit to do some oversight to try to change the law where they can,” Allison Cunningham, the gas association’s top lobbyist, said at a conference in Minneapolis with other gas industry executives last month, according to a recording of the event.
Representative Bill Johnson, Republican of Ohio and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an interview that he had been discussing the issues with the gas industry. He said he was eager to try to elevate them in the new Congress starting in January.
…Oil industry advocates are preparing to turn to House Republicans as well to pressure the Interior Department to open up more federal lands in the West for oil and gas drilling, after a major slowdown in leasing in the first nearly two years of the Biden administration.
There is almost glee in their voices when they discuss the possibility of helping draft questions for Biden administration officials, like Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who if Republicans take control will be called to testify more frequently, and aggressively, in oversight hearings.
“She has managed to dodge questions when she’s been before a Democrat committee chair,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an oil industry group. “I don’t think she’ll get that same treatment when the Republicans are in charge. She hasn’t really had her feet held to the fire.

Ted Lieu is out in the Midwest campaigning for Democratic candidates, like Chris Deluzio and Summer Lee. I asked him about this Times piece and he dismissed it with 7 words last night: "We are going to hold the House."

Steve Holden sure hopes Ted is right. He's running in a tough central New Yprk district against New York's very own Marjorie Traitor Greene. "The GOP," he told me last night, "is positioning themselves to reverse any potential gains by the Biden administration with a takeover of the house in the midterms. One such candidate is Rep. Claudia Tenney (running for NY-24) who is seeking to represent a newly created district that locals have come to call the 'Lake District' because it is bounded to the north by Lake Ontario (one of the Great Lakes) and encompasses NY’s Finger Lakes region— a deeply agricultural district filled with dairy farms and wineries. Ms. Tenney introduced a bill she called the 'American Energy is Global Security Act.' While ostensibly written to maintain energy independence, it is a gift to big energy and out of state corporations who seek to bring fracking back to NYS which is currently blocked by state law. Tenney’s law would punish her own state by withholding crucial grants and tax benefits to the energy sector unless it reverses its decision and allow cracking back in the state. Introducing potentially ruinous effects on the ecologically fragile ecosystem of that district and endangering the lifeblood of that region’s economy, Ms Tenney and others like seem driven only by the prospects of benefitting donors of the energy sector over their own constituents."

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