Inside Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar Big Oil heist

Inside Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar Big Oil heist
Inside Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar Big Oil heist

As soon as fossil-fuel financed Donald Trump was sworn into office, he got busy destroying the nation’s climate progress.

In June 2017, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, shamefully walking away from a global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the only signatory country to do so.

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Among Trump’s other early steps to halt climate progress: Scott Pruitthis Environmental Protection Agency director, scrubbed climate science information off the agency’s website. Pruitt, who resigned under an unethical cloud of scandal the following year, “cleansed” (read: removed) federal data about fossil fuels and carbon emissions from web pages that had been educating the public since the late 1990s.

Going into the 2024 election, Trump is warring with climate science again. Even as global temperatures hover at a precarious tipping point endangering habitabilityTrump has solicited a billion-dollar contribution from fossil fuel execs in exchange for letting the planet burn baby burn.

Trump’s lowly $1 billion price tag

At a shockingly under-reported event in April, the presumptive Republican nominee invited fossil fuel representatives to dine with him at Mar-a-Lago where he served up a foul tasting entrée of quid pro quo.

More than 20 oil executives from Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and other fossil fuel concerns attended.

Over a steak dinner, Trump offered attendees $110 billion in tax breaks and said he’d reverse Biden’s environmental protections. Trump also pledged to scrap President Joe Biden’s policies on electric vehicles and wind energy and other initiatives opposed by the fossil fuel industry, including legal barriers to drilling and the Biden administration’s rules designed to cut car pollution.

The catch: the oil barons must agree to donate a billion dollars to Trump’s presidential campaign.

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Trump said it was a good “deal.” Ponying up $1 billion to get Trump re-elected would be advantageous for Big Oil, he promised, because the value of the tax and regulation cuts he’d give them in return would far exceed that amount, including new offshore drilling and speedier permits.

Forbes reported that During an Arizona campaign rally in 2020, Trump similarly suggested that he could offer ExxonMobil permits in exchange for a $25 million campaign contribution. Appalling and galling though it was, last month’s Mar-a-Lago Big Oil party wasn’t the first time Trump’s open corruption jeopardized a livable planet.

Dr. Evil would have been proud.

Trump advances Big Oil’s disinformation campaign

Climate disinformation from the fossil fuel lobby is legion, and it has gone on for decades.

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers has undertaken an extremely well-funded campaign against Biden’s EPA tailpipe rules, misleading consumers and voters by calling the rules a “ban” on “gas cars.” The lobby has purchased ads in battleground states to lie to voters about Biden’s efforts to increase the manufacture of EVs, claiming that increasing EV production and adopting the charging station infrastructure to support them will restrict consumer choice.

Their disinformation efforts are obscene because their profits are obscene.

Last year, ExxonMobil and Chevron reported their biggest annual profits in a decade. Three of the largest oil and gas producers reported combined profits of $85.6 billion in 2023. ExxonMobil reported $36 billion, while Chevron reported $21.4 billion. Shell‘s reported profits were down from 2022 but still reflected the second-largest profits in a decade.

Then-President Donald Trump speaks to 5,000 contractors at the Shell Chemicals Petrochemical Complex on Aug. 13, 2019, in Monaca, Pa. President Donald Trump delivered a speech on the economy, and focused on manufacturing and energy sector jobs. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the oil industry also received hundreds of trillions of dollars in new financial incentives to expand carbon-reducing technologies. Given that larger fossil fuel companies have already diversified into renewables, one would think they would lead the discussion on what an appropriate energy mix looks like, instead of falsely lambasting Democrats’ transition efforts.

The rub, it’s clear, is timing and greed. They want the US to rely primarily on fossil fuels for several more decades, but by then, scientists warn, the transition will be too late.

Democrats investigate

Politico reported last week that oil executives are licking their chops, eagerly drafting industry-friendly executive orders Trump would sign as soon as he returns to office.

Democrats say not so fast.

After the Washington Post reported that Trump had offered to dismantle Biden’s environmental rules in exchange for $1 billion in campaign contributions, Democrats on the House oversight committee sent letters to nine oil executives asking about the Mar-a-Lago meeting.

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Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) wrote in the committee’s letter that, “Media reports raise significant potential ethical, campaign finance, and legal issues that would flow from the effective sale of American energy and regulatory policy to commercial interests in return for large campaign contributions.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that “Trump’s offer of a blatant quid pro quo to oil executives is practically an invitation to ask questions about Big Oil’s political corruption and manipulation.”

Tea Houston Chronicle says Democrats are pearl clutching. While it is true that Democrats promise donors they will try to protect abortion access, there’s a vast moral and legal chasm between vowing to protect a fundamental human right — healthcare — and vowing to destroy has fundamental human right — breathable air.

A tale of two countries

Whether or not voters understand it, the climate contrast between Biden and Trump couldn’t be more dramatic.

Biden refers to global warming as an “existential threat” and has engaged in over 300 shares aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution, restrict toxic chemicals and preserve public lands and waters. Biden’s administration has taken more action to combat climate change than any other administration in US history. The Inflation Reduction Act led to record investment in solar, wind and increased EV sales.

Although these policies will take years to deliver climate results, by one early assessmentthey have already resulted in a 3 percent cut in energy emissions.

President Joe Biden points to a wind turbine size comparison chart during a meeting about the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House June 23, 2022, in Washington, D,C. The White House is partnering with 11 East Coast governors to launch a new Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership to boost the offshore wind industry. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump, amplifying Big Oil’s decades-long disinformation campaign in exchange for money, has called climate change a “hoax.” At his New Jersey rally last week, Trump vowed to stop offshore wind “on day one.”

Hey has claimed without evidence that wind energy causes cancer, and that he knows “windmills very much,” because he has “studied it better than anyone I know.” Demonstrating the principles of Darwinism, Trump eliminated more than 125 environmental rules and policies during his time in office and is now promising more destruction.

In November, we will elect the president we deserve. Whether Trump or Biden is elected, both men are elderly. That means they will be gone long before the worst environmental disasters arrive.

The choice is before us. One of these candidates promises his grandchildren will eat from a golden plate. The other promises there will be something we the plate.

Sabrina Haake is a columnist and 25 year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Her SubstackThe Haake, is free.

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