Timothy P. Carney
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
As BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig was sinking on April 22, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was on the phone with allies in his push for climate legislation, telling them he would soon roll out the Senate climate bill with the support of the utility industry and three oil companies — including BP, according to the Washington Post.
Kerry never got to have his photo op with BP chief executive Tony Hayward and other regulation-friendly corporate chieftains. Within days, Republican co-sponsor Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., repudiated the bill following a spat about immigration, and Democrats went back to the drawing board.
But the Kerry-BP alliance for an energy bill that included a cap-and-trade scheme for greenhouse gases pokes a hole in a favorite claim of President Obama and his allies in the media — that BP’s lobbyists have fought fiercely to be left alone. Lobbying records show that BP is no free-market crusader, but instead a close friend of big government whenever it serves the company’s bottom line.
While BP has resisted some government interventions, it has lobbied for tax hikes, greenhouse gas restraints, the stimulus bill, the Wall Street bailout, and subsidies for oil pipelines, solar panels, natural gas and biofuels.
Now that BP’s oil rig has caused the biggest environmental disaster in American history, the Left is pulling the same bogus trick it did with Enron and AIG: Whenever a company earns universal ire, declare it the poster boy for the free market.
As Democrats fight to advance climate change policies, they are resorting to the misleading tactics they used in their health care and finance efforts: posing as the scourges of the special interests and tarring “reform” opponents as the stooges of big business.
Expect BP to be public enemy No. 1 in the climate debate.
There’s a problem: BP was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a lobby dedicated to passing a cap-and-trade bill. As the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, BP saw many ways to profit from climate legislation, notably by persuading Congress to provide subsidies to coal-fired power plants that switched to gas.
In February, BP quit USCAP without giving much of a reason beyond saying the company could lobby more effectively on its own than in a coalition that is increasingly dominated by power companies. Theymade out particularly well in the House’s climate bill, while natural gas producers suffered.
But two months later, BP signed off on Kerry’s Senate climate bill, which was hardly a capitalist concoction. One provision BP explicitly backed, according to Congressional Quarterly and other media reports: a higher gas tax. The money would be earmarked for building more highways, thus inducing more driving and more gasoline consumption.
This article was posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 4:20 am