Chamber Ad Misleadingly Attacks Sen. Sherrod Brown For Energy Votes

November 16, 2011 2:03 pm ET

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is getting an early start on its 2012 attack ads with a spot going after Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for his votes on domestic energy policy. The ad claims that Brown "had the chance to help cut energy costs" for Ohio families — but that's nothing more than spin. Brown voted to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies and against speeding the permitting process for offshore drilling, but experts explain that even increasing domestic energy production on a far larger scale would have no impact whatsoever on the price of energy.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "Energy"

Temperatures are dropping, energy costs expected to rise, and Washington's costly energy policies could leave Ohio families in the cold. When Sherrod Brown had the chance to help cut energy costs, he said no. Instead, Brown voted to block American energy production and increase energy taxes. Call Sherrod Brown. Tell him Ohioans need economic help, not higher energy taxes. Paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Brown Voted To Close Tax Loopholes For Giant Oil Companies And Against A GOP Bill To Speed Offshore Permitting

The Chamber of Commerce ad provides two on-screen citations for the claim that Brown has voted to block American energy production and increase energy taxes: Senate Vote #72 on May 17, 2011, and Senate Vote #73 on May 18, 2011.

In May, The Senate Blocked A Bill To Close $2 Billion In Annual Tax Loopholes For The Largest Oil Companies. As reported by the Los Angeles Times: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a Democratic effort to scale back oil industry tax breaks, underscoring the difficulty of getting Congress to agree to any significant measures aimed at bringing down gas prices. All but two Republicans - along with three Democrats - voted against bringing the repeal measure up for debate, even though the $2 billion a year in additional tax revenue from five major oil companies would have been steered into reducing the federal budget deficit, a Republican priority." [Los Angeles Times, 5/17/11]

  • Sen. Brown Voted In Favor Of Closing The Oil Tax Loopholes. [S. 940, Vote #72, 5/17/11]

Companies Targeted By Legislation Have Recorded Profits Of $90 Billion Per Year On Average For The Past Decade. From the Center for American Progress: "Each time Americans' gas bills go up, so do Big Oil's profits. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Persian Gulf unrest combined with speculators bidding up prices led to oil prices rising by more than one-third. Higher oil prices on the world market led to higher gasoline prices across our nation, and the big five oil companies made $32 billion in profits. Profits of this size are quite common. Between 2001 and 2011, a period marked by gas price volatility, these five companies collectively made more than $900 billion in profits. In 2010, Exxon Mobil finished first in the Fortune 500 list of company profits for the eighth year in a row, with Chevron coming in third and ConocoPhilips 16th." [Center for American Progress, 5/17/11]

A Month After BP Oil Spill, The Senate Voted On A Bill To Speed Up Offshore Drilling Permits. From The Hill: "Senate leadership agreed to hold a test vote Wednesday on legislation introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that would expand domestic oil and gas drilling. [...] McConnell's bill would require the Interior Department to hold lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Virginia coast, set a timeline for review of pending offshore permit applications and extend leases in the Gulf for one year, among other things." [The Hill, 5/17/11]

  • Sen. Brown Voted Against The GOP Bill. [S. 953, Vote #73, 5/18/11]

Increased Domestic Drilling Wouldn't Lower Energy Costs

Experts: Forcing Through New Drilling Leases Won't Reduce Gas Costs. From the Huffington Post:

Republicans used the politically potent argument about the cost of gas Thursday to pass a bill expanding offshore oil and gas exploration. But analysts say there's a major flaw in their case: More drilling will barely budge prices.

The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, which passed 266 to 144 with 33 Democrats buying into the scheme, orders the Department of the Interior to move quickly to offer three leases to drill in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the coast of Virginia. The bill demands that the leases be executed by next year.

But the legislation won't reduce the price at the pump, experts said. Nor would a vastly more ambitious effort have much impact.

"It's not going to change the price of oil overnight, and it's probably not going to have a huge impact on the price of oil ever," said Mike Lynch of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, Inc. referring not just to those four leases, but to expanding all U.S. drilling. [Huffington Post, 5/6/11, emphasis added]

More Domestic Drilling "Will Have Hardly Any Impact On Gas And Oil Prices." From CNNMoney:

The problem is this: While increased oil and gas drilling in the United States may create good-paying jobs, reduce reliance on foreign oil and lower the trade deficit, it will have hardly any impact on gas and oil prices.

That's because the amount of extra oil that could be produced from more drilling in this country is tiny compared to what the world consumes.

Plus, any extra oil the country did produce would likely be quickly offset by a cut in OPEC production.

"This drill drill drill thing is tired," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, which calculates gas prices for the motorist organization AAA. "It's a simplistic way of looking for a solution that doesn't exist." [CNNMoney, 4/25/11]

Conservative AEI Scholar: At 100 Percent Production, "We Probably Couldn't Produce Enough To Affect The World Price Of Oil." Ken Green, resident scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told the New York Times: "'The world price is the world price,' Green said. 'Even if we were producing 100 percent of our oil,' he said, if prices increase because of a shortage in China or India, 'our price would go up to the same thing. We probably couldn't produce enough to affect the world price of oil,' Green added. 'People don't understand that.'" [, 1/4/11]

Due To "Globally Integrated Nature Of The World Oil Market" Drilling In America Would "Not Have A Large Impact On Prices" Long Term. According to Richard Newell, Administrator of the Energy Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Energy: "Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements. Given the increasing importance of OPEC supply in the global oil supply-demand balance, another key issue is how OPEC production would respond to any increase in non-OPEC supply, potentially offsetting any direct price effect." [, 3/17/11]