New report reveals Big Oil’s COVID lobby bonanza

Filings show push on tax cuts, royalty relief, and stimulus loans

WASHINGTON – A new report from Friends of the Earth reveals the extent of Big Oil’s lobbying for coronavirus aid. A review of over 130 lobby filings from the first quarter of 2020 shows significant lobbying for tax cuts, royalty relief, and stimulus aid, all using COVID-19 as a pretext.

Friends of the Earth senior policy analyst Lukas Ross issued the following statement in response:

Big Oil is wasting no time exploiting the coronavirus for profit. Polluters fought hard for kickbacks in the first coronavirus stimulus package and they are undoubtedly up to it again. As Trump and the GOP continue their crusade to prop up Big Oil, we must stop the fossil fuel industry from snatching more taxpayer money.

Highlights of the report include:

  • At least 11 oil and gas companies and trade associations reported lobbying on tax issues in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed in March. The filings indicate that tax policy was Big Oil’s largest single intervention in stimulus negotiations.
  • This lobbying blitz seems to have been rewarded with over $100 billion in tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the industry, especially companies like Halliburton that reported losses last year and companies like ExxonMobil beginning to report losses this year. These new giveaways are in addition to $16 billion in annual direct subsidies for oil and gas.
  • The Independent Petroleum Association of America, the political arm of the fracking industry, reported lobbying one of the main banking regulators in the US, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, regarding coronavirus relief. This is a strong sign that heavily indebted drillers are seeking laxer lending standards to weather the crisis.
  • ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum — the largest and fourth largest oil companies in the US — both reported lobbying for the 45Q tax credit, a subsidy that mainly incentivizes using captured CO2 to stimulate oil production. Although the IRS Inspector General recently found that nearly $1 billion in credits had been fraudulently claimed under the current law, Senate Republicans recently demanded that the tax credit be expanded and made permanent as part of the next coronavirus stimulus.
  • The Interior Department has begun the process of granting royalty relief, reducing or perhaps eliminating entirely the share due to taxpayers for oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters. This reflects lobbying pressure from at least two major trade associations.

 

Expert contact: Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, [email protected]
Communications contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]

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