Yesterday I participated in a blogger conference call with the American Petroleum Institute. The topic was Industry Earnings and Recent Oil Prices, and the audio and transcript may be found here.
My question was a political question regarding the seemingly permanent hostile relationship between oil companies and Democrats. My question, and comments that followed:
24:15 MR. RAPIER: Okay. One more question from me, a political question: If you look at political contributions, the contributions from oil companies to Republicans are – tend to outweigh those of Democrats and, subsequently, Democrats have a pretty hostile view toward oil companies. And I’m wondering how we improve that relationship. This is one thing that’s always frustrated me, was that there just seems to be this incredible distaste from Democrats and I never understood why we don’t open up a better relationship here with them, the Democratic leadership.
I think we’re about to have a Democrat in the White House who’s threatening windfall profits and all kinds of things and I can’t understand why we don‟t sit down and open up a better dialogue with the Democratic leadership.
25:01 MR. PUGLIARESI: You know, I have a little story to tell you about that. I happen to have been in a little meeting with Bennett Johnston, the former, as you know, the former senator from Louisiana. And he‟s a Democrat. And he said, you know, he was talking about – I sort of asked him a similar question. You know, why is the Democratic Party at war with the oil industry? I mean, in 2006, it was a cash cow. It generated like $130 billion of revenue to the government. I mean, compare that to the problems they’re having with GM. You know, they should be doing award dinners for these guys. And he said, you know, when we had Democrats from oil-producing states, we didn’t have these problems, because then, the party was afraid – (chuckles) – to overdo it. So you may be – we may be ending up in that direction in the next year if the polls turn out the way they seem to be.
26:53 CINDY KILKENNY: This is Cindy Kilkenny from Fairly Conservative. And I trained as a political scientist and I have to say it’s definitely a wedge issue and it’s very insightful. And I grew up in Oklahoma. My family – my brother is still in the oil patch and he’s been, so I see both sides of this and I know how it’s being used and it‟s just about what it redeems for whoever wants it at that point.
I don’t expect this relationship to get any better with a new administration, but I would certainly like to see it improve. As I have said before, I am probably a little left of center (although I have little in common with the far left or far right), but I think the Democratic party has the more naive view of energy policy. I get the impression that the leadership thinks that if they could just drive the oil companies out of business, we would all live happily ever after on clean, renewable energy.