Western Energy Alliance Pushes Industry’s Polluting Agenda Over America’s Interests
HELENA, MT – Politico reports that an industry-funded front-group fueled a public relations campaign of a questionable oil and gas study. The watchdog group Documented uncovered that the trade association Western Energy Alliance paid to promote the study and planned future promotions of it at a later date.
“This is another attempt by the polluting fossil fuel sector to ensure its CEOs’ pockets stay lined and oil and gas corporations can continue to take advantage of taxpayers with impunity. It’s time to end the special treatment and the billions in taxpayer subsidies and tax breaks to Big Oil. Instead of fueling Western Energy Alliance’s propaganda machine, monied corporate oil and gas interests could have helped rebuild the economy by investing in workers,” said Accountable.US spokesperson Jayson O’Neill.
Wyoming taxpayers funded the study — which was critical of efforts to address America’s broken public lands leasing system — by University of Wyoming Professor Timothy Considine. Considine’s past ties to the oil and gas industry have raised serious ethical questions regarding his work, and this study is no exception.
During the Biden administration’s Climate Day yesterday, the president made it clear that Congress needs to get back to work on behalf of the American taxpayer and end the Big Oil taxpayer grift. Unfortunately, industry is up to its old tricks of sowing discord and fueling disinformation.
Western Energy Alliance (WEA) has a long history of pushing dirty mistruths about common sense oil and gas policies that would ensure taxpayers aren’t being taken to the cleaners, public lands remain viable for future generations, and we address climate change including:
- WEA advocates for reducing common sense regulations on the industry that cost taxpayers plenty and once argued for a complete “moratorium on new federal regulations” pertaining to the oil and gas sector. Ironically, after already filing a frivolous lawsuit against the Biden administration’s executive order prior to it being released, WEA had previously lobbied Congress to ban obstructive lawsuits. [Billings Gazette, 04/24/12]
- The industry front-group worked closely with and colluded with Trump’s Interior Department to rollback important safeguards, including gutting critical sage-grouse habitat protections. Public documents revealed that Trump’s Interior Department had adopted 13 of 15 of the front-group’s oil and gas wish-list requests. [Western Values Project, accessed 11/25/19; Yahoo News, 02/18/19]
- Western Energy Alliance said the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was a “situation [that] arises from too much federal ownership of land in the West,” according to a blog post written by its president Kathleen Sgamma. [Western Energy Alliance, 01/08/16]
- Western Energy Alliance supports industrial oil and gas drilling and development in and near Indigenous peoples’ sacred sites, including in Bears Ears National Monument. [KUTV, 09/09/19; E&E News, 04/13/17; The Salt Lake Tribune, 12/04/17]
- Western Energy Alliance opposed almost every land management and energy reform initiative of the Obama administration. “The group describes itself as ‘dedicated to environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West,’ despite opposing almost every land management and energy reform initiative of the Obama administration.” [PolluterWatch, accessed 11/25/19]
- Western Energy Alliance fights against methane emission regulations to combat climate change. “Kathleen Sgamma, president of the trade group Western Energy Alliance, testified that the Methane Waste Protection Act and two other bills to more tightly regulate oil and gas companies would do more harm than good.” [Colorado Politics, 9/24/19]
- Western Energy Alliance has a Political Action Committee (PAC) that gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who oppose oil and gas regulations, including donating thousands to Montana Senator Steve Daines and Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman.
- In the 2020 Election Cycle, the Western Energy Alliance PAC gave $146,800 to federal candidates. [Open Secrets, accessed 01/27/21]
Learn more about Western Energy Alliance and other industry-funded front-groups on Accountable.US’s Money Trails website.