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Oil Industry Executives Are Popping Champagne Corks

July 27, 2000

Oil Industry Executives Are Popping Champagne Corks
in Executive Suites

Bush Veteran Cheney is Poster Child for Revolving Door Politics

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The selection of former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s running mate gives the Republican Party a Big Oil ticket that will lead to more breaks for the oil industry and more anti-consumer energy policies that harm the environment and consumers, Public Citizen said today.

Bush is a former oil executive. Cheney, the ultimate corporate-government insider, has enormous financial interests in oil and extensive connections to businesses that are directly affected by government decisions. Cheney represented Wyoming (and that state s oil interests) for a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he was instrumental in defending oil interests during his tenure in the Bush administration, culminating with the Gulf War.

“We can only imagine how the oil industry and the rest of Corporate America are reacting to Texas Gov. George W. Bush s choice of former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his running mate,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “The champagne corks must be popping in the executive suites.”

Cheney went through the revolving door between government and industry when he joined the Dallas-based Halliburton Co. as chief executive officer after he left the Bush administration. Halliburton has more than 100 companies as subsidiaries or affiliates around the world.

Halliburton eats at the trough of government contracts. The company benefited greatly from the Gulf War. After the war, the company collected, cleaned and repacked more than 214,000 tons of ammunition in Saudi Arabia under government contracts. It also helped clean up and rebuild Kuwait, including restoring the airport, approximately 70 schools and two hospitals.

The company is a leader in “outsourced government contracts.” Its two largest government contracts are with the Defense Department, which Cheney headed under former President Bush, and the UK Ministry of Defense. Halliburton says the Pentagon will outsource billions of dollars of work in the next several years.

According to Halliburton’s Web site, the company is “the world’s largest provider of products and services to the petroleum and energy industries.” Halliburton s many energy projects include:

  • an alliance with Fortum Oil & Gas to offer a new process for producing high octane gasoline;
  • an alliance with Tyumen Oil Co., one of Russia s largest oil producers, for joint evaluation and development of oil and gas assets;
  • a contract with Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria for a major offshore oil and gas facility in Nigeria;
  • a five-year contract with Petroleum Development Oman for pressure pumping services;
  • a $2.5 contract for development of offshore fields in Brazil (being finalized).

Cheney’s relationship with the oil industry does not bode well for consumers should he be elected to serve in a Bush White House. The oil industry already is receiving $2.5 billion in tax breaks over five years (1999-2004), in addition to research subsidies and other government handouts.

The industry has never been shy about playing hardball in buying and selling America s oil policy. The industry spent almost $78 million to lobby government officials in 1997-98 and approximately $4.6 million in campaign contributions for federal candidates during the same period. The industry has already given Bush $1.5 million for his campaign and Vice President Gore almost $100,000.

“U.S. energy policy has long favored Big Oil at the expense of consumers and the environment, and with a Bush-Cheney team running the executive branch, Big Oil will be in the driver s seat,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.