The Biden White House Has an Exxon Problem


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From the article:

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy has met at least twice this year with oil and gas industry representatives, including a June meeting about the infrastructure package with the American Petroleum Institute—a formidable trade lobby that McCoy described to Unearthed as “whipping boys” Exxon uses to help avoid scrutiny.

In the full transcript of the call with McCoy, provided to TNR by Unearthed, the lobbyist says that part of his job was to introduce Exxon CEO Darren Woods to a “new cast of characters.” That’s involved reaching out to McCarthy, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and White House Office of Public Engagement head Cedric Richmond. “Prior to coming to Washington DC I did environmental and energy work in Massachusetts which is where Gina McCarthy is from so she and I worked together, I’ve known Gina for over 20 years,” McCoy said in the transcript.

Other Biden appointees have ties to Exxon, as well. The administration has nominated Neil MacBride—who sued the Treasury Department on behalf of ExxonMobil—to serve as its general counsel. As the Revolving Door Project has pointed out, Biden’s pick to become the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Elizabeth Rosenberg, was a consultant for Exxon, and has previously argued in support of key fossil fuel industry priorities. While working at the Exxon-sponsored Center for a New American Security (CNAS), she went to bat for repealing the crude oil export ban and accelerating U.S. exports of liquified natural gas.

Reminder also that this was Biden’s campaign co-chair and now senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Liaison:

But there is another Biden campaign figure whose oil and gas industry connections have not been examined: Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, whom Biden selected in May to serve as his campaign co-chairman.

Despite representing a low-lying Louisiana district that could be one of the areas in the U.S. most immediately impacted by climate change, Richmond has voted reliably in favor of expanding production and exports of natural gas and oil. His voting record is one of the most fossil fuel industry-friendly of all Democrats in Congress.

In 2015, Richmond was one of 28 House Democrats to vote in favor of approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast. Last year, he voted in favor of a bill from Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) that would undermine the environmental review process for natural gas pipelines by stating that all pipelines that transport 0.14 billion cubic feet per day or less should be immediately approved.

Richmond, a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, has voted in favor of many Republican bills opposed by environmentalists over the years, including Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s (R-Okla.) bill to exempt cross-border pipelines from environmental review, Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) bill to reverse the crude oil export ban, Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash.) bill to expand offshore drilling, and Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W.V.) bill to block the Environment Protection Agency from regulating the disposal of toxic coal ash.

In 2011, Richmond signed a letter from Rep Charles Boustany (R-La.) calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite approval of the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, a project of Cheniere Energy, the natural gas company where Zichal would become a board member.

And his “informal” climate advisor during the campaign, the same Heather Zichal mentioned in that last paragraph:

But there’s already a potential conflict of interest: Former Obama adviser Heather Zichal, who recently occupied a lucrative seat on the board of the Texas-based liquified natural gas (LNG) company Cheniere Energy, is now an “informal adviser” on climate change policy to the Biden campaign. The company has profited in recent years as the U.S. has increased its liquified natural gas production, something the Obama and Trump administrations have encouraged.

In 2013, while a climate and energy staffer in Obama’s White House, Zichal met with Cheniere officials twice, according to DeSmog. The year before, Cheniere became the first company to receive an LNG export permit from the Obama administration—and the first to receive such a permit in 50 years. She joined the Cheniere board in 2014. According to investigative reporter Nick Surgey, Zichal earned a total of nearly $1.1 million from compensation and stock while a Cheniere board member from 2014-18.

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Roberto Walker
He is an associate editor and works at the political desk. He covers a wide range of news from world politics to local politics.
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