Ads appear on Facebook millions of times a week. They are targeting vulnerable Democrats in Congress by name, warning that the $3.5 trillion budget bill, one of the Biden administration’s biggest efforts to pass meaningful climate policy, will devastate the US economy.
“Some politicians, including Republican Houlahan, are focusing on demanding tax hikes on U.S. energy producers,” says an ad attacking Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, which aired September 15. Occupations. Call Representative Houlahan now!”
Paid assignments are part of the oil and gas industry’s broader attack on the budget bill, whose fate is now in the balance. Among the climate provisions likely to be left out of the plan is an effort to eliminate billions of dollars in fossil fuel tax breaks – provisions that experts say promote the burning of fossil fuels responsible for catastrophic climate change.
Thursday, Details of the deal revealed between the majority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, and Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a Democrat with great influence in the divided Senate Who said he does not support such a comprehensive bill. In a memo outlining the deal, first obtained by Politico, Mr Manchin said that if the law includes the extension of smaller tax credits for wind and solar power, he should not roll back tax breaks for fossil fuel producers.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s largest trade group, has been at the center of efforts to push persistent tax cuts for oil and gas. It uses a front group called Energy Citizens, which the API used a decade ago. successfully block A “border and trade” scheme that would set a ceiling on emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases and allow companies to buy and sell special permits to stay below that ceiling.
In the first six months of this year, the API spent more than $2 million directly lobbying Congress, including on taxes, according to federal disclosures. API, whose members include Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP, is also a seven-figure TV campaign opposes various measures in the reconciliation package.
At Facebook, the API has spent almost half a million dollars running hundreds of ads attacking the bill since August 11, when the Senate passed a budget decision, according to ad data analyzed by InfluenceMap, a London-based think tank. impact on policy making. These ads, which included at least 286 ads targeting members of Congress, were viewed at least 21 million times.
According to the data, the API’s average daily spend on budget-busting Facebook ads exceeded the group’s peak spending after previously presidential candidate Joe Biden announced his climate plans in July 2020. (Detailed Facebook data on political ad spend is available as of May 2018 only.)
API ads, by the way, because of his opposition to the plan Sen. Praises Manchin. Senator Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator. In a recent ad, “Help us thank Senator Joe Manchin for being champions of American-made energy.”
API spokesperson Megan Bloomgren said the industry group is working with policymakers on both sides of the corridor on climate policy and continues to support carbon pricing. “Policies embedded in the $3.5 trillion compromise package that limit American access to energy and impose punitive taxes are the wrong way to address our shared goal of emissions reduction and will only lead to more imports and higher costs for Americans,” he said.
The data shows that Exxon Mobil, the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, spent about $1.6 million on politics and issues ads over the same time period. That’s the company’s highest daily spend on Facebook ads since the presidential election.
While many of the ads talk about the oil industry in general, others encourage voters to call their representatives: “Tell Congress that American companies can’t afford the tax hike,” reads a recent Exxon ad.
Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton said the company’s efforts were “fully transparent and reported to the appropriate agencies.” “We have made this position public, and that the company’s efforts are related to a tax burden that could put US businesses at a disadvantage,” he said. Exxon continues to support climate action, including regulating methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, as well as regulating the carbon price; and climate goals He talked about the Paris agreement.
Jake Carbone, a senior analyst at InfluenceMap, said ads have tremendous reach and potential impact.
“They get millions of views,” he said. “Even if a very small percentage of people who view these ads actually contact the agent, it will still be a lot of calls.”
Environmental groups respond to advertising at their own expense. For example, the Conservative Voters Union and Climate Power said they’ve spent $3.2 million on digital ads since August, and that includes $3.2 million on ads against Republicans in Congress like Florida’s Maria Salazar, who voted against the bill. .
“Florida families need Maria Salazar to see what’s ahead of them,” says an ad that began airing September 8th. “The danger is real. Extreme weather conditions are more intense and more frequent than ever before – and now even more reasons to act.”
“The time has come to tune API’s self-serving campaigns against climate action and focus on bringing the Better Return Act to the finish line before our window to action is closed,” said Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Force.
Researchers who study oil and gas impact campaigns said industry campaigns are the latest chapter in a long history of curbing climate policy.
API Benjamin Franta, a Stanford researcher and co-founder of the Climate Social Science Network, a global network of climate scientists, said it was one of the first industry organizations to have extensive early knowledge about climate change. “It was one of the oldest in the industry to downplay the threat of climate change and encourage further fossil fuel expansion,” he said.
In recent months, the industry lobby group has said it supports strong action on climate, including putting a price on carbon pollution. Both API and Exxon target of an investigation On past efforts by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to curb climate policy. The API said it “welcomes the opportunity to testify.”
Most of the industry’s efforts are focused on maintaining special tax breaks that benefit producers. But experts say subsidies are unnecessary for a profitable and mature industry like oil.
Also, the burning of fossil fuels has caused climate change, this link highlighted in: A landmark scientific report published by the United Nations this year. In a separate report, International Energy Agency announced Nations around the world need to stop approving new oil and gas fields immediately if they want to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
“Subsidies can make the difference between an ongoing field,” said Pete Erickson, director of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Climate Policy Program.
President Biden has made tax revisions a critical component of his climate agenda, with a $150 billion program designed to replace most of the nation’s coal and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power over the next decade. In the American Business Plan, President Biden called for the elimination of “billions of dollars in subsidies, loopholes and special foreign tax credits for the fossil fuel industry.” President Biden argues that clean energy can provide more sustainable jobs.
Both environmental groups and climate researchers have called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies. 350 billion dollars in the richest countries in the world, more than double the estimate of subsidies for renewable energy.
Industry groups such as the API and the US Chamber of Commerce defended the tax provisions. A group of oil industry groups “allows our industry to recover its costs and invest it in the next project” wrote in a letter To Ron Wyden, a Democrat and powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman, from Oregon in June.
Most likely repealed, including tax breaks for “intangible drilling costs” that allow producers to deduct a large portion of the cost of drilling new wells, and a tax credit for an unconventional process called enhanced oil recovery. This loan encourages producers to drill for oil using methods that may not be economical at oil market prices, Said a Congressional review last year.
Also missing is the repeal of the provision known as the “percentage exhaustion allowance”, which allows independent oil and gas producers and copyright holders to deduct 15 percent of gross income each year; this enables smaller operators to keep even uneconomical, marginal wells operational. The Biden administration has calculated that getting rid of these and other fossil fuel tax choices will save $35 billion over the next decade.