Big Oil Sells Out?

I don’t know who disgusts me more — Sen. Graham, or the oil companies.

Senators consider gasoline tax as part of climate bill

Estimates put it in the range of 15 cents a gallon. Some oil companies are on board with the plan because it would cost them far less than other proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Leading voices in the Senate are considering a new tax on gasoline as part of an effort to win Republican and oil industry support for the energy and climate bill now idling in Congress.

The tax, which according to early estimates would be in the range of 15 cents a gallon, was conceived with the input of several oil companies, including Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips, and is being championed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

[Emphasis added.]

Disgusted, but not surprised. Last June, you may recall, Shell and BP were tied for #6 on my list of The Top 10 Green Energy Whores.

I’ve spent plenty of time and killed plenty of electrons pointing out the hypocritical players in the ongoing energy/climate change/Cap and Trade circus on Capitol Hill. GE and the coal-burning utilities are the easy targets for ridicule; they’ve long since signed on to the Statists’ game, deciding it’s safer and more profitable in the long run to sell out “to be part of the solution”, as they would euphemistically put it.

There are oil companies, and then there are oil companies. I work for an independent company which is involved in exploration and production. We are small and non-integrated, meaning we don’t own refineries, tankers or gas stations. And very often, our interests are at odds with the “Majors”, who are integrated international behemoths. The Majors are “Big Oil”.

In this case, Big Oil has decided that it’s better to join than fight. This suggested action — an additional 15 cents or so per gallon carbon tax, on top of the state and federal taxes already levied at the pump, suits them just fine. It’s small enough (for now) that it won’t curtail demand much, and they won’t even have to be involved in figuring, assessing or collecting the tax. That works much better for them than the earlier Cap and Trade proposal to collect the tax at the refinery.

(Note that two of the companies mentioned in the article, BP and Shell, aren’t even American companies, but their support is considered meaningful in crafting a deal.)

As the article points out, the American Petroleum Institute has yet to take a position on the new tax. API is the industry’s trade group, and the bigger companies have a dominant voice. Interestingly, 90% of America’s wells are drilled by independent companies who are members of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a separate trade group.

It’s not uncommon that, as in this case, the interests of the Majors and the Independents are at odds. Capitalists being capitalists, it’s not surprising that the Majors would try to cut a palatable deal that left their business model (and long-term survivability) intact.

Just don’t blame me.

Cross-posted at

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