Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Senator John Barrasso took to the Senate floor to attack President Biden’s broadly popular agenda to protect public lands and combat the climate crisis. Given the oil industry’s history of funding Barrasso’s campaign efforts and his penchant parroting Big Oil talking points, the remarks came as no surprise.
“Attacks on Biden’s climate efforts from oil industry allies like Senator Barrasso should be seen for what they really are: thinly-veiled attempts to keep Big Oil executives’ pockets fat, no matter the cost,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Barrasso’s fear mongering on behalf of Big Oil isn’t based in science or evidence — and it won’t convince the majority of Americans demanding bold action to protect our public lands and fight back against the worsening consequences of the climate crisis.”
A recent Accountable.US analysis found that Barrasso took nearly $20,000 of his almost $70,000 total 2020 election cycle contributions from the oil and gas industry during the last quarter of 2020, when he was still expected to chair the Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee in a Republican-controlled Senate. Barrasso even bragged on FOX News late last year that Biden’s nominees, including long-held up nominees to Biden’s Interior Department, would “have to run the gauntlet” in front of his would-be committee.
BACKGROUND ON BARRASSO’S REMARKS:
RHETORIC: Barrasso claimed that “The cost of filling your tank with gas is up by about a dollar a gallon today compared to the day Joe Biden was sworn in as president… The American people are already paying high energy prices because President Biden is blocking American energy. ”
REALITY: As high gas prices hurt Americans’ wallets, oil corporations have made banner profits this year. Bloomberg reported this week that major oil companies are expected to post their “highest cash flow in more than 13 years” on third quarter earnings calls. Oil and gas companies have also increased exports this year, lining their executives’ pockets while Americans pay more due to “lack” of supply.
RHETORIC: Barrasso lamented Biden’s move to block the destructive Keystone XL Pipeline, claiming it “ended the jobs of thousands of individuals.”
REALITY: Major oil companies operating in the U.S. are responsible for laying off thousands of workers during the COVID-19 crisis, even as their top executives took home massive bonuses. In fact, the industry laid off as many as 100,000 workers under the Trump administration in 2020 while CEOs’ personal compensation grew — sometimes skyrocketing by triple digit percentages.
RHETORIC: Barrasso complained that oil production on federal lands was materially impacted by the Biden administration’s public lands leasing pause.
REALITY: Evidence shows that the administration’s leasing pause has not harmed the production of oil and gas on public lands, which contribute to about ¼ of the nation’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions. In Colorado, reports indicate that oil companies “have already stockpiled enough leases to keep drilling on federally owned lands … for the next 35 years” — far from the disastrous picture Barrasso tried to paint. In Barrasso’s own state of Wyoming, E&E News reports that production was up significantly in June as compared to the year before.
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