During a press conference on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed the Biden administration for misleading Americans by arguing that oil companies are at fault for rising energy prices due to unused oil and gas leases.
“Their latest talking point is there’s all these wonderful permits that just the oil companies for whatever reason don’t want to drill upon,” Cruz said. “Now, I understand that the White House’s talking points are written by an 18-year-old intern who’s taking freshman socialism, but it would be good to have someone who has actually worked in the private sector and has some awareness of how energy is produced.”
“Energy producers will drill for oil and gas wherever it is profitable, wherever it is viable,” he continued. “Many of those permits are not being drilled because if you got a natural gas well that you’re trying to drill, you have to have a pipeline to carry the gas from the well to its end users and the Biden Administration is also freezing pipelines.”
On Monday, Fox News asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki why President Biden has refused to resume issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Psaki responded by saying “there are 9,000 approved drilling permits that are not being used.”
However, representatives in the energy industry said that Psaki’s “accusation” was a “complete red herring.”
“That accusation is a complete red herring,” American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC) CEO Anne Bradbury told FOX Business. “It’s really a distraction from the fact that this administration has paused leasing on federal lands, something that we’re concerned about and something that we think needs to continue right away.”
Kevin O’Scannlain at the American Petroleum Institute (API) made similar comments.
“The argument about ‘unused’ leases is a red herring, a smokescreen for energy policies that have had a hamstringing effect on the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil,” O’Scannlain said. “It suggests American producers have been motivated by a desire to manipulate the market during the current crisis in Europe. This is false. American oil and gas producers are able and willing to do their part to support American energy leadership, including providing energy that can help allies abroad.”
“Ultimately, energy policies affect the energy investment climate,” O’Scannlain continued. “Specifically, they impact the ability of producers – typically accountable to shareholders – to take the risks involved in spending billions of dollars to find and develop oil and gas. Mischaracterizing the way federal leases work does not help foster new investment and risk-taking.”
O’Scannlain also explained that “When a company acquires a lease, it makes a significant financial investment at the beginning of the lease in the form of a non-refundable bonus bid and pays additional rent until and unless it begins producing… Developing a lease takes years and substantial effort to determine whether the underlying geology holds commercial quantities of oil and/or gas. The lengthy process to develop them from a lease often is extended by administrative and legal challenges at every step along the way.”
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WSJ: Corporate Dirty Pool in Washington’s Senate Race
The Wall Street Journal’s, Kimberly A. Strassel wrote a piece identifying how the Democrats are so worried about Washington Senator Patty Murray’s re-election “that Seattle’s corporate heavyweights are playing dirty pool on her behalf.”
Murray, a leftwing progressive, has faced little competition while in office; until now. Tiffany Smiley, a Republican nurse and entrepreneur “is pummeling Ms. Murray from every direction and laying out her own detailed reform agenda” adds the WSJ.
A RealClearPolitics average has Ms. Murray winning by 8 points. Another poll has Smiley within 2 points. Regardless, It’s close enough that “Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently transferred $500,000 of his own campaign cash to Ms. Murray’s campaign.”
Money from Schumer isn’t the only liberal panic dough. “Starbucks, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Seahawks—are actively attempting to sabotage the Smiley campaign, albeit in a distinctly underhanded fashion” writes the WSJ. “Their targets are two effective Smiley campaign ads.”
At the center of the fight are two of Smiley’s ads: “Game Day” and “Cup of Coffee.”
In “Game Day” the Republican is in a kitchen preparing to watch a football game, hitting Ms. Murray and Democrats for the spiraling cost of food. In “Cup of Coffee,” she stands in front of a derelict building. Barely visible at the top, and seen backward, is the store’s faded Starbucks sign. Ms. Smiley hits Ms. Murray for rising crime, while the ad flashes two Seattle Times headlines, one of which reads: “Starbucks to Close 5 Seattle Stores Over Safety Concerns.”
“Game Day” hit the airwaves Sept 1. Five days later, according to documents I obtained, the Smiley campaign received a terse email from the Seahawks claiming a trademark violation. The ad briefly shows Ms. Smiley’s husband, Scotty—a retired U.S. Army Ranger who was blinded by shrapnel in Iraq—expressing alarm that “even beer” prices are rising. You only see his shoulders above a tall couch—and if you get a magnifying glass you might make out a letter or two from the word “Seahawks.” The letter insisted the Smiley campaign “immediately cease” its “unauthorized commercial use.” Nothing like your local sports franchise dumping cease-and-desist orders on wounded veterans.
“Cup of Coffee” went live on Sept. 20. The next day, the Seattle Times sent an email to the “Jane Smiley” campaign—apparently without running it past its fact-checking desk—accusing it of “unauthorized use of The Seattle Times logo and two headlines” in violation of the paper’s “copyright and trademark.” It demanded the campaign remove any references to the paper not only in its own ad, but in an NBC News article about the ad’s launch.
Two days later, Starbucks sent a certified letter saying the campaign was appropriating its intellectual property, and complaining it might “create an unfounded association in the minds of consumers between Starbucks and your campaign.” It insisted the campaign either pull the ad or alter it to strip both the (barely visible, backward) sign and the Seattle Times headline referencing Starbucks.
One such letter may be the product of an overzealous lawyer, but three in a row looks like more than a coincidence. One might even wonder if some Murray staffer was putting bugs in Seattle business leaders’ ears. And while corporate political-action committees routinely play politics by making donations, it’s something else for individual companies to go to bat for a candidate via behind-the-scenes threats based on tenuous legal claims. These letters were bound to cost the Smiley campaign money and headaches and might have pushed it off the airwaves.
The campaign didn’t roll over. It made a painless accommodation to the “Game Day” ad, blurring the jersey colors to obscure anything distinct. In a legal letter sent Thursday to Starbucks, the campaign rebutted the company’s infringement claims, running through political speech protections and noting that no reasonable person would ever think a factual ad about shuttered Starbucks stores amounted to a coffee-chain endorsement. It suggested Starbucks focus on its own problems, like its recent union woes.
The Seattle Times also received a letter refuting its claims, but it got something in addition. The Smiley campaign on Thursday filed a Federal Election Commission complaint, charging the paper with providing the Murray campaign a prohibited in-kind contribution. It turns out that Ms. Murray has also used a Seattle Times headline in her ads. Her “First 2016 Ad” sports the newspaper’s logo under the headline: “Patty Murray’s and Paul Ryan’s Teamwork Is a Model for Congress.” It seems the Times has a different legal standard for candidates it endorses.
As the FEC complaint notes, the Smiley campaign would have to spend an estimated $5,000 to remove and update the ad—“costs that Patty Murray does not have to accrue.” It cites FEC regulations that provide “if a corporation makes its resources available for free, it must do so for all candidates.”
Don’t expect the Seattle corporate set to do anything on behalf of Ms. Smiley soon. But it shouldn’t be too much to ask that they do their politicking straight—and out in the open.
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