Polluter Congress Ignores $53 billion in Offshore Drilling Handouts During Spending Cuts

  • Posted on: 20 February 2011
  • By: Connor Gibson

In a move that exposes the repeated and predictable habit of Congressional polluter allies, House Republicans have ignored a $53 billion handout over the next 25 years to oil companies that are not required to pay royalties when obtaining leases for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. This year alone, according to House Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), $1.5 billion in absent lease royalties will benefit oil companies seeking to expand offshore drilling.

The leases, which give oil giants access to public property for their own profit, is another slap in the face to taxpayers who have already watched their land (and for many, their fragile livelihoods) become poisoned by industry abuse and maintained by federal incompetence.  As fiscal conservatives in the U.S. House selectively look for government spending to trim, the main targets seem to be social programs instead of unncecessary billions doled out to the world's largest oil companies.  As Congress scratches the back of Big Oil, fresh reports emerge of continued devestation on the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico, a direct result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Noting the twisted irony, Rep. Markey stated, "Republicans once again sided with BP, Exxon and the oil companies, not with the American taxpayer and the poorest Americans most in need of help. This legislation focuses on just the kind of special interest loophole that should be closed before we open attacks on programs for the poorest Americans.”

This failure to save wasted taxpayer money is but a small portion of the sickening annual handouts to the oil industry through subsidies. Oil Change International explains, "Estimates of the value of US federal subsidies to the domestic oil and gas industry alone (not coal) range from 'only' $4 billion a year, to an amazing $52 billion annually.  Coal subsidies are roughly another 10 billion annually."

Through its DirtyEnergyMoney tabulation website, Oil Change International reports that the 111th House of Representatives has some powerful allies to the oil industry across party lines. From 2009-2010, thirteen House members were each awarded over $100,000 by oil companies alone:

  • Roy Blunt (R-MO) -- $269,400
  • Dan Boren (D-OK) -- $205,750
  • Chet Edwards (D-TX) -- $176,130
  • Joe Barton (R-TX) -- $150,870
  • Mike Ross (D-AR) -- $135,350
  • K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) -- $132,600
  • John Sullivan (R-OK) -- $125,800
  • John Fleming (R-LA) -- $123,550
  • John Boehner (R-OH) -- $119,400
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS) -- $113,600
  • Eric Cantor (R-VA) -- $110,600
  • Charles Boustany (R-LA) -- $109,000
  • Harry Teague (D-NM) --$100,300

Top givers to the 111th Congressional Representatives of Oil were Koch Industries ($616,513), ExxonMobil ($553,950), Chevron ($373,100) and Valero Energy ($311,250).

More information on all of these companies can be found on our PolluterWatch profiles for each company, as well as in-depth looks at their Congressional funding through DirtyEnergyMoney.com

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