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HELENA, MT, October 20, 2020 – President Donald Trump’s suggestion that fossil fuel corporations like Exxon would be willing to give him large campaign contributions in exchange for federal government drilling permits follows a long love affair between the president and the company. “President Trump and Exxon can deny their corrupt relationship all they want, but facts are facts: public lands and their users are worse off because President Trump has allowed corporations like Exxon to exploit our natural heritage with impunity,” said Jayson O’Neill, director of the Western Values Project. As recently as April, Exxon’s CEO met with the president to personally petition for relief from the economic crisis that resulted from the administration’s mishandling of the ongoing public health emergency. Some of the corporation’s public lands leases were awarded royalty rate cuts to 0.5%, despite Exxon having to pay nearly $1 million in penalties for dodging natural resource royalties just last year. At the beginning of the administration, Exxon contributed $500,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Not long after that contribution, President Trump illegally cut land out of Bears Ears National Monument where the company owns “operating rights“. Here is a rundown of how the Trump administration has already helped fossil fuel corporations reap billions of profits in recent years prior to the billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts awarded to the sector during the economic crisis:
- Seventeen oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Valero, received $25 billion, in direct one-time benefits from the 2017 tax bill. [Pacific Standard, 03/27/18]
- Nine major oil companies, including Chevron, Cliffs Natural Resources, Devon Energy, EOG Resources, Halliburton, and more, paid no federal income taxes on nearly $18.2 billion of U.S. income in 2018. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 04/11/19]
- Over the course of the Trump Administration, oil and gas companies have received $38 million in subsidies through federal grants. [Subsidy Tracker]
- United States banks, including CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs, have billions of dollars’ worth of loan balances to oil and energy companies. [Market Watch, 03/12/20]
Big Oil hasn’t already gotten billions in subsidies, tax breaks and other benefits by accident. They’ve pulled every lever to exert their special interest influence. Here are a few examples:
- The oil and gas industry has spent a staggering $377,028,774 on lobbying just since President Trump took office. [Open Secrets, 2019, 2018, 2017]
- President Trump’s campaigns have already accepted over $21 million in donations from the oil and gas industry. [Open Secrets, election cycles for 2020, 2018, 2016, and 2017 Inauguration]
- David Bernhardt, a top oil and gas lobbyist with extensive connections to Halliburton, Eni Petroleum, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and many other major industry players, is in charge of Trump’s Department of the Interior. [David Bernhardt Ethics Recusal, 08/15/17; David Bernhardt profile, 10/19/20]
Western Values Project, an Accountable.US project based in Montana, defends America’s public lands through research and public education to expose special interest influence on policymakers who are charged with making key decisions in order to protect the West’s outdoor heritage.