The Speaker's Pipe Dreams: Big Oil Investments Muddy Boehner's Message On Keystone XL

January 18, 2012 11:25 am ET

Shortly after the Keystone XL pipeline permit process started gaining steam in Canada and the American Midwest, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) began investing significantly in companies tied to the project. In addition, since 2008 a number of companies that stand to benefit from Keystone XL have donated thousands of dollars to Boehner since 2008. As approval has floundered, Boehner has used his clout as Speaker of the House to try to push the project through in the name of "jobs."

Boehner Has Been A Vocal Advocate For The Keystone XL Pipeline

Canadian Official In 2010: Boehner/Republicans Are "More Receptive" Than Democrats About Oil Sands Development. From the Canadian Press:

Things are looking up for Alberta's oilsands in the United States with Republicans poised to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans are so far ''more receptive'' than Democrats about the oilsands, Gary Mar, Alberta's representative in Washington, said following a recent meeting with officials in John Boehner's office.

Boehner, an Ohio congressman, will become speaker of the House in January.

''I found them very well-informed and their knowledge of energy issues was very good ... they were well-versed, well-briefed,'' Mar said. [Canadian Press, 11/18/10 via Nexis]

Boehner: "Nonsense" That State Department Might Need More Than Two Months To Study Keystone's Impact. From ThinkProgress:

Boehner dismissed as "nonsense" the State Department's stated need to take more than two months to re-evaluate the impact of changing the pipeline's Nebraska route. Plans for a new route have not even been submitted yet. Denying the obvious that the 60-day deadline would short-circuit oversight of a risky foreign oil pipeline, Boehner tried to make the oil-industry gift an election-year issue for President Obama:

GREGORY: White House officials I've talked to say you are guaranteeing that he'll say no to this because the State Department has already said they can't get the review done for the extension in that amount of time.

BOEHNER: That's nonsense. David, it's been going on for three years. All the studies are done. It's gone through every part of the regulatory process. The only issue here is that the president doesn't want to have to make this decision until after his election. Twenty thousand direct jobs, 100,000 indirect jobs, to build a pipeline from Canada down to the Gulf that would help our energy security, help produce more energy here in North America. This is the right thing to do, the American people support it, and the president shouldn't continue just to put this off for his own election convenience.

[ThinkProgress, 12/19/11]

Boehner Has Touted The Keystone Project On The Official Speaker Of The House Website. Dozens of posts on Speaker.gov advocate for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project. [Speaker.gov, accessed 1/17/12]

Boehner Launched A "Countdown Clock" And YouTube Video To Pressure President Obama Into Making A Quick Decision On Keystone XL. From the Washington Post:

In the meantime, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) launched a "countdown clock" that ticks off the time until the permitting deadline expires and posted a video on YouTube that touts the pipeline as a chance to create jobs with private investment. Playing off Obama's mantra of "We Can't Wait," the video flashes phrases across the screen including, "We Can't Wait for Leadership. We Can't Wait for Jobs." [Washington Post, 1/14/12]

Keystone XL Would Connect Canada's Tar Sands To The Gulf Of Mexico

The Keystone XL Project Would Transport Oil Extracted From Alberta Tar Sands, Including Athabasca. From the Guardian:

The pipeline would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to American refineries at the Gulf of Mexico, and many are concerned about the associated impacts on the climate. [...]

Tar sands (a.k.a. oil sands) are an unconventional deposits [sic] of petroleum containing bitumen, which is a very viscous form of petroleum generally known as tar or very heavy crude oil.  Alberta, Canada contains the largest deposits of crude bitumen in the world, the biggest of which is the Athabasca tar sands. [Guardian, 8/23/11]

Boehner Maintains Significant Investments In Companies Tied To The Keystone XL Pipeline Project

According to public financial disclosure statements published by the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2009 Boehner invested $15,001-$50,000 in each of a number of companies that stand to benefit from the Keystone project (documents for 2008-2010 provided for comparison).

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In BP In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

BP's Canadian Subsidiary "Holds Three Oil Sands Opportunities In Northern Alberta." From BP's company website:

BP Canada Energy Company holds three oil sands opportunities in Northern Alberta suitable for in situ development using steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology:

  • A joint venture with Husky Energy to develop the Sunrise oil sands lease in the northeastern Athabasca region of Alberta.
  • A joint venture with Devon Energy to develop the Pike oil sands lease in the southern Alberta region of the Athabasca oil sands deposit.
  • A partnership with Value Creation Inc. to develop the Terre de Grace oil sands lease in the northwestern Athabasca Region of Alberta. [BP.com, accessed 1/17/12]

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In Chevron In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

Chevron Corp. Owns A Large Stake Of An Athabasca Oil Sands Development Project. From a Dow Jones Newswires story via RigZone.com:

A 100,000-barrel-a-day expansion at Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSA) Athabasca Oil Sands Project is expected to be completed and start up in 2011, slightly behind schedule, a top executive of partner Chevron Corp. (CVX) said Thursday.

"It's going to start more likely next year, which is little behind the original schedule," Gary Luquette, Chevron's president North America Exploration and Production, told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. [...]

The Athabasca development currently produces 155,000 barrels a day of thick, tarry bitumen from the oil sands mine, which is subsequently processed into a higher-grade synthetic fuel at the project's upgrader. Shell is the project leader with a 60% stake, while Chevron and Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) own 20% apiece. [Dow Jones Newswires, 5/8/09, via RigZone.com, emphasis added]

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In ConocoPhillips In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

ConocoPhillips Owns "Nearly 1 Million Net Acres Of Land In The Athabasca Region." From the ConocoPhillips company website:

ConocoPhillips holds nearly 1 million net acres of land in the Athabasca Region of northeastern Alberta. The significant bitumen deposits on these lands are estimated to contain more than 15 billion net barrels of resources, making ConocoPhillips the holder of one of the largest land and resource positions in the region. [ConocoPhillips.com, accessed 1/17/12]

  • ConocoPhillips Has Also Been Soliciting The Public To Lobby The Department Of State On Behalf Of The Oil Industry. From ConocoPhillips.com:

In May, we asked you to voice your support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase the capacity to move crude oil from Canada's oil sands to U.S. refineries - a pivotal step in securing North America's energy supply. Now, it is more important than ever for you to voice your support as the project is in its final public comment period. Learn more about Keystone XL and how you can make a difference by reading the information below.  [...]

WHAT YOU CAN DO

You can make a difference. We delivered nearly 7,500 letters during the previous comment period in May. Your comments are needed once again; have your voice heard on this important domestic energy security matter.

Act now for our energy security before the Oct. 9, 2011, deadline. Simply click here to have your comments submitted to the Department of State. A message has been pre-populated for you; however, if you wish to craft your own note, speaking points are available to assist you. [ConocoPhillips.com, accessed 1/17/12, emphasis original]

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In Emerson Electric In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

Emerson Electric Has A $9.4 Billion Contract For Oil Sands Development Support Services. From the Washington Post:

Environmentalists note that in December 2010, according to Boehner's financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada's oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport. The firms include six oil companies - BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Exxon - along with Emerson Electric, which has a contract to provide the digital automation for the first phase of a $9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada. [Washington Post, 1/14/12]

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In Exxon Mobil Corp. In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

Exxon Mobil Is A Huge Player In Canadian Oil Sands. From investment website SeekingAlpha.com:

Ownership of Alberta's oil sands continues to consolidate in the hands of global energy companies, with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) paying $250 million to take over leases owned by UTS Energy. [SeekingAlpha.com, 11/2/09]

Boehner Invested Between $15,001-$50,000 In Canadian Natural Resources LTD In 2010. [Boehner 2010 Financial Disclosure, 5/13/11, via OpenSecrets.org]

Canadian Natural Resources Has Committed One-Fifth Of Its Production To The Keystone Pipeline. From the Calgary Herald:

Amid growing suggestions the U.S. State Department will delay or potentially reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline, oilsands executives counting on ramped up exports of bitumen said Thursday there are other options.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. president Steve Laut said oilsands producers could pursue other markets, if the U.S. denies a presidential permit needed for construction of the proposed 2,700-kilometre crude oil pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

CNRL has 120,000 barrels per day "locked up on Keystone for 20 years," said Laut, who's betting on U.S. approval. That's about one-fifth of the company's current total production of oil and gas. [Calgary Herald, 11/4/11]

Boehner Invested Between $15,0001-$50,000 In Occidental Petroleum Corp. In 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

Occidental Petroleum Is Another Major Developer Of Oil Sands In Alberta. From the Occidental company website:

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement with Enerplus Resources Fund to purchase a 15% interest in the Joslyn Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada for C$500 million. [...]

The Joslyn project is one of the premier oil sands projects in the world. Operated by Total, it holds over 8 billion barrels of bitumen in place and the recoverable reserves, net to Occidental, are estimated at 370 million barrels. While the project is still in the early stage of development, it currently has more than 1,800 delineation wells drilled to date to confirm the resource potential. The project is being developed by steam assisted gravity drainage (in process) and surface mining. Occidental expects to spend approximately $2 billion over a number of years to develop the reserves. [Oxy.com, 6/23/08]

Boehner Invested Between $1,001-$15,000 In Devon Energy Corp. in 2009. [Boehner 2009 Financial Disclosure, 5/14/10, via OpenSecrets.org]

Devon Energy Is A Proponent Of Keystone XL. NASDAQ.com recently relayed an interview with Devon Energy CEO John Richels from Dow Jones Newswires:

The U.S. government's decision to delay construction of a major Canadian oil pipeline is forcing Canada to deepen its ties with China, the head of U.S. oil and natural gas producer Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) said Friday.

"It's striking to me that for the first time I'm really hearing all the different levels of [Canada's] government and industry saying maybe it's not good to have one customer, maybe we need two customers ... maybe we can't rely on our good friend to the south," Devon Chief Executive John Richels said in an interview. [...]

About a quarter of Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy's oil business is in Canada, with the rest in the U.S. Richels is a Canadian, who spent most of his career in Calgary, Western Canada's energy-industry capital. [...]

Though he said he believes Keystone XL will eventually be approved by the U.S., he said Devon would be forced to consider other alternatives for its oil-- including a Canadian west-coast pipeline option--if Keystone is rejected by the U.S. [Dow Jones Newswires, 1/13/12, via NASDAQ.com]

In Recent Election Cycles, Boehner Received Big Money From Potential Beneficiaries Of The Keystone Project

Boehner And His PAC Have Received At Least $55,000 From Koch Industries Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12; OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

  • Koch Industries Is "Well Positioned To Benefit" From The Keystone XL Pipeline. From the Guardian:

In 2009, Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, an Alberta-based subsidiary of Koch Industries, applied for-and won-"intervenor status" in the National Energy Board hearings that led to Canada's 2010 approval of its 327-mile portion of the pipeline. The controversial project would carry heavy crude 1,700 miles from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast. [...]

Koch Industries, like the rest of the oil industry, is well positioned to benefit from a pipeline that would double U.S. oil sands imports.

The company's Flint Hills subsidiary already has an oil terminal in Hardisty, Alberta, the starting point of the Keystone XL. It sends about 250,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day to a heavy oil refinery it owns near St. Paul, Minn., making that refinery "among the top processors of Canadian crude in the United States," the company website says. [Guardian, 10/5/11, emphasis added]

Boehner And His PAC Have Received At Least $27,500 From Marathon Oil Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12; OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

  • In 2007, Marathon Oil Purchased A Large Stake In The Athabasca Oil Sands Region. From Oil & Gas Journal:

Marathon Oil Corp., which is increasing capacities of its US refineries to handle heavy feedstocks, has agreed to buy Western Oil Sands Inc. for $6.5 billion (Can.) in a cash-and-stock deal that gives it a strong position in the Athabasca oil sands of northern Alberta.

Western holds a 20% interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), a joint venture operated by Shell Canada, with a 60% interest, and including Chevron Canada, 20%. [...]

Marathon will gain interests in more than 300,000 gross acres, of which an area of over 200,000 acres is expected to be developed by mining. The other acreage holds potential for in situ development. [Oil & Gas Journal, 8/6/07]

Boehner Has Received At Least $25,000 From Chevron Corp. Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Has Received At Least $24,500 From Exxon Mobil Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Has Received At Least $10,000 From ConocoPhillips Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Has Received At Least $10,000 From BP Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Has Received At Least $7,500 From Occidental Petroleum Since 2008. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Received $5,000 From Devon Energy During The 2010 Election Cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

Boehner Received $2,500 From Emerson Electric During The 2010 Election Cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 1/18/12]

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