MEMO: Hottest Place in Gas Price Hell is for Politicians Who Depend on Big Oil’s Money
To: Interested Parties
From: Lori Lodes, Climate Power Executive Director & Pete Maysmith, League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President for Campaigns
Re: MEMO: Hottest Place in Gas Price Hell is for Politicians Who Depend on Big Oil’s Money
Working families are feeling the squeeze of high gas prices which remain alarmingly steep. Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has exposed the dangers of U.S. dependence on a global commodity that is controlled by hostile dictators and oil and gas CEOs making billions at our expense. As people faced escalating prices at the pump, top oil and gas companies took in a staggering $205 billion last year – and LCV and Climate Power’s new ad campaign will make sure Big Oil’s allies in Congress can’t get away with taking this dirty money. More on that to come.
Big Oil CEOs donate millions to politicians to keep the world reliant on their dirty, dangerous fossil fuels. Already, the oil and gas industry has funneled nearly $7 million into Republican coffers for the 2022 elections, while announcing plans to return $88 billion to shareholders while families struggle to make ends meet on tight budgets. It’s time for Big Oil’s allies in Congress to feel the heat for amassing campaign contributions from price gouging oil and gas executives.
We are putting them on notice: “the hottest place in gas price hell is for politicians who fuel their careers with Big Oil’s money.”
Environmental groups are taking to the airwaves and rallying public pressure on every member of Congress who asks how high when the Big Oil industry tells them to jump. As Hart Research pollsters stated in a March memo, “the hottest place in gas price hell is reserved for ‘politicians who depend on oil companies for campaign contributions.’” Before explaining what our new initiative will look like it’s essential to consider just how much communities are paying to line the industry’s coffers.
Oil and Gas CEOs’ greed and profiteering is sending energy costs through the roof
Last Wednesday during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse noted, “The industry PR machine is out full blast trying to blame this on people who don’t have the power to set price(s)—and it’s a little hard to accept that.” That comment came as reporting broke on a survey from the Dallas Fed finding that oil executives overwhelmingly blame the lack of production increases on a desire to reward investors, not government policy.
Focusing on investors over consumers allowed the twenty-five top oil and gas companies to make over $205 billion in profits last year, and Exxon, Chevron, BP, and Shell had their biggest increase in profits in seven years. In just the last three months of 2021, Exxon-Mobil made $8.9 billion, and Chevron $5.1 billion, in profits. At the same time, oil and gas CEOs are using the cover of inflation and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to excessively raise prices and boost their profits—forcing us to pay more at the pump.
Big Oil Greed is Aided and Abetted by Republican Politicians in Congress
The industry couldn’t keep generating billions in profits without their politician enablers—Congressional Republicans. Over 80% of oil and gas donations went to Republican congressional candidates over the past 30 years – totaling over $500 MILLION in campaign donations for the GOP. In the last decade alone, Big Oil has spent over a BILLION dollars lobbying to weaken environmental protections and stop the production of clean energy. Just last year, as families were struggling because of inflation, House Republicans voted to block a clean energy plan that would have lowered families’ energy costs. Opening up more U.S. land and water to drilling like Republicans want will do nothing to lower costs. It’s a lie to make the rich richer that will increase climate pollution and have devastating health impacts on communities, especially Indigenous communities and communities of color who live near oil and gas extraction sites. Congressional Republicans are in the pockets of Big Oil and are working against American-made clean energy—leaving us dependent on oil and gas and at the mercy of hostile dictators.
The Climate Movement is Taking on Big Oil’s Republican Congressional Enablers
In this important moment, we are ensuring that Big Oil’s allies in Congress can’t escape the powerful scrutiny of the public eye. It starts with a six figure advertising campaign beginning next week on national cable to draw the attention of decision-makers.
The first ad, Higher Profits, shows that Putin’s War makes prices higher for Americans, and lines the pockets of oil companies with Republicans’ help. We paint a clear picture of blanket Republican opposition to investing in clean energy that achieves true energy independence while lowering costs for families.
The national narrative is accompanied by a first wave of spending in Congressional districts on the front lines of the climate crisis where high gas prices are top of mind for the public. These members are Mike Garcia (CA-25), Michelle Steel (CA-48), Maria Salazar (FL-27), and Carlos Gimenez (FL-26). The climate-fueled extreme weather their districts have faced, from intense wildfires and drought in Southern California to rising sea levels and devastating tropical storms in South Florida, underscores the consequences when lawmakers seek to curry favor and contributions from Big Oil.
On April 4 and 5, while we’re up on the air nationally and in these districts, and ahead of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s hearing with oil company executives, the League of Conservation Voters will have an installation on the National Mall that calls attention to Big Oil’s price-gouging.
We know that the best way to secure true energy independence and lower costs is by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and rapidly increasing the production of clean, renewable energy made here in the United States. Petro-state dictators like Vladimir Putin weaponize oil and gas. Congress can and must take that weapon away.
The bottom line: Unlike oil and gas, clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind won’t ever run out and will provide a secure and stable energy supply long into the future. This dynamic effort will break the power of politicians who refuse to embrace true energy independence so people can finally be in control of their own energy security.