Will House GOP Leadership Put Big Oil Donors Ahead of Economic Recovery?

US Capitol with its power plant in foreground (via Flickr's Matthew Hurst)

At a time when our members of Congress should be working to find common ground on legislation to help America’s struggling economy, House Republican leadership is instead taking the payroll tax cut bill hostage, demanding a huge new giveaway for its Big Oil donors.

Just how much Big Oil money has flowed into Congress this year, particularly to House Republicans?

  • The oil & gas industry has already spent $110,691,654 on lobbying in 2011, raising its total to an incredible $566,724,419 spent on lobbying just since 2008.
  • We’re still 11 months away from the 2012 elections, but the oil & gas industry has already given $10,170,152 to presidential candidates and members of Congress, including $4,060,374 to House Republicans alone.
  • The top 31 House recipients of oil & gas money in the 2012 cycle are all Republicans.
  • The top two oil & gas industry contributors to candidates, parties & outside groups? Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, who are also two of the most active funders of climate science denial.

What’s followed that wave of dirty energy cash? An aggressive new push for a polluting pipeline:

House of Representatives will include approval of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline in a payroll tax cut bill, House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday, raising the political stakes on the issue.

The move by House Republicans marked a challenge to President Barack Obama, who has warned he would veto any bill that linked quick approval of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline to extending a tax cut for American workers that is due to expire on December 31.

This so-called policy rider would literally substitute Big Oil’s demands in place of sound science-based policy decisions. Instead of considering TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s potential impact on things like drinking water, climate change, and critical whooping crane habitat, it would require regulators to approve – not to consider or evaluate, but to approve — the pipeline within weeks of receiving an application.

The Keystone XL pipeline is Big Oil’s dangerous plan to lock America into a long-lasting addiction to Canadian tar sands oil, the dirtiest source of oil on the planet,” said Larry Schweiger, president & CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud President Obama for promising to veto bills that are hijacked by Big Oil and other special interests.”

Just as Big Oil has stepped up its donations, polluter allies are wildly inflating their claims about how many jobs would be created by the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Fox host Eric Bolling even claimed with a straight face that the pipeline would create a million jobs. Really? We’re supposed to believe Keystone would employ twice as many people as the U.S. Postal Service?

Unrefined tar sands (Photo: Flickr/Lou Gold)
In reality, a study by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute found building the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline could actually result in a net loss of jobs in America. “Job losses would be caused by additional fuel costs in the Midwest, pipeline spills, pollution and the rising costs of climate change,” said researchers. “Even one year of fuel price increases as a result of Keystone XL could cancel out some or all of the jobs created by the project.”

With Americans still weary of  the games played with the debt ceiling limit this year, the last thing they want now is more political scheming. A WashingtonPost.com poll currently asks, “Should House Republicans tie extension of the payroll tax cut to other measures, such as approval of the Keystone Pipeline?” With more than 9,000 responses, a whopping 79% reject the House GOP’s hostage strategy.

Take ActionHouse Republican leadership shouldn’t put the needs of polluters ahead of helping economic recovery in communities across America. Ask your members of Congress to say no to holding legislation hostage to polluter giveaways.