Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Factual Statement: Big Oil Gets Billions Each Year in Government Handouts

Written by Ross Hammond

When it comes to government handouts to the fossil fuel industry, one of the more intractable members of the Supercommittee appears to be Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, who voted in both 2010 and 2011 to continue to give our tax money to Big Oil.

Senator Kyl made a name for himself earlier this year when he charged on the Senate floor that abortions are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does”. Confronted with the fact that less than 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is related to abortion, his office was forced to issue a retraction. And what a retraction it was. In a statement that provided weeks of fodder for comedian Stephen Colbert and others, Kyl’s office boldly declared that “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”

When it comes to government handouts to Big Oil, most of what Senator Kyl has to say is clearly not intended to be factual. For example the Senator has repeatedly defended tax breaks for Big Oil, falsely claiming that eliminating these handouts would “hurt the American consumer” through increased gasoline prices. But even his friends at the American Petroleum Institute agree that ending these subsidies “would not affect the global economics underpinning oil supply and demand, which explain today’s gasoline prices.”

One possible explanation for Sen. Kyl’s aversion to the facts could be his receipt of huge amounts of campaign cash from Big Oil and Dirty Coal. Senator Kyl has accepted at least $450,872 in dirty energy money since 1999. Some of his largest dirty energy money donors include ExxonMobil ($18,000), Koch Industries ($14,500) and Chevron ($14,000). Kyl’s leadership PAC has received an additional $45,000 from Koch Industries, according to Payback Time, a recently released report from Oil Change International and Public Campaign that looks at ties between the fossil fuel industry and the Supercommittee members.

According to Payback Time, a number of former aides to Kyl also now serve as fossil fuel industry lobbyists or work at firms that count dirty energy industry companies as clients. For example David Hoppe, who just became Kyl’s chief of staff, left his position as president of lobbying powerhouse Quinn & Gillespie where he lobbied for the American Petroleum Institute and Entergy. One of Kyl’s previous Chiefs of Staff, Manny Rossman, subsequently lobbied for companies such as Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, while Lawrence Willcox, who served as tax counsel for Kyl, has lobbied for Clean Coal Solutions, Edison Electric Institute and Koch Industries, amongst others.

The “not intended as a factual statement” episode aside, 2011 was not all bad for Senator Kyl. In March he received the annual distinguished service award from the Nixon Center at a ceremony underwritten in part by Chevron, which donated $50,000 to the event. Then in April Kyl was honored at the Bryce Harlow Foundation annual dinner, which the Washington Post calls “the premier social event for Washington’s lobbyists”. Amongst those companies underwriting the event were Chevron, Marathon Oil, Shell and the American Petroleum Institute…..

Click here to send a factual statement to Senator Kyl: demand that he stop being loyal to Big Oil, and stand with the American people, the majority of whom want these outrageous government handouts to end. If you’re in Arizona visit one his offices in Phoenix or Tuscon and let his staff know in person. And while you’re at it pick up the phone and call his DC office at (202) 224-4521.

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