Tim Carney has a column at the Washington Examiner detailing BP’s lobbying influence, which begs the following history lesson and first-hand account for voters, generally unaccustomed to such sleaze, to fully appreciate the game presently being played out in Washington.
President Obama announced in Pittsburgh last week that BP’s Gulf oil spill demands his wrath in the form of the Kerry-Lieberman “cap-and-trade” energy tax. Hearing this, your reaction may have been to wonder just how making energy more expensive for everyone—seniors, the poor, it’s all good—is a proper response. And the truth is that our young ideological president’s effort to make sure this crisis doesn’t go to waste is actually much worse than it seems on its face.
BP, joined by Enron, invented carbon cap-and-trade in the mid-1990s. Yeah. That cap-and-trade.
I know, because I was in the room.
And BP has been lobbying for it aggressively and at great expense ever since, some eight figures of which has gone to green pressure groups.
Specifically, in May 1997 I met with senior officials from BP, Niagara Mohawk Power, and others… “others” like the Union of Concerned Scientists and their ilk… in the Washington offices of a white-shoe New York law firm, putting our collective heads together strategizing on how to get the U.S. roped into a global warming treaty, and get “cap-and-trade” imposed domestically, too.
You can read some great internal Enron memos about this effort they led in partnership with BP at the Master Resource website, run by Enron refugee and frustrated internal whistleblower Rob Bradley. One particularly illuminating montage, including with links, is found here.
The Enron-BP partnership continued until Enron’s unhappy ending. That collapse only led BP, like GE which also picked at the bones of the uneconomic assets Enron had acquired with an eye toward obtaining the “global warming” wealth transfers, to step up its efforts just that much harder.
My introduction to the BP/Enron scheme—classic “rent-seeking” combined nicely with Baptist-and-bootlegger coalition-building—came on day two or so of my illustrious three week career as Enron’s Director of Federal Government Relations.
I went back to my office and asked some very basic—and, I now know, naive—questions like “when did we go from asking if ‘global warming’ is real and a problem to how to make a buck off of it?” Such cheek went over very poorly with my boss.
Thus began the end of my career with Enron and, in hindsight, my path to the “skeptic” side of this mind-numbingly cynical and dishonest policy push.
Flash-forward about two months after this gathering of the “Business Council for Sustainable Development”. On August 4, 1997 BP met in the Oval Office with the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States (some guy named Al), and Enron to instruct the administration to ignore the unanimous Senate instruction pursuant to Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution imposing the requirement of “advice and consent”.
That “advice” was do not go to Kyoto and agree to that treaty or anything like it. Instead, Ken Lay and (then-BP CEO, then-Sir and now Lord) John Browne pleaded, go ahead to Kyoto and agree to that treaty, binding the U.S. and also getting cap-and-trade as part of it.
Those are facts. As is that, after U.S. negotiators in Kyoto continued to heed the Senate’s unanimous advice, Al Gore hopped on a plane to Japan and instructing them to instead heed the advice of BP and Enron. And, with regrets to a sloppy or impossibly biased media, team Clinton-Gore even signed Kyoto just as BP and Enron demanded, contrary to the Senate and the Constitution.
All of which I detail, incidentally, in Chapter 5, “Picking Your Pockets for Political Payola” of Power Grab.
So the truth is that BP has not only asked, for more than a decade, for the supposed punishment that President Obama now says is imperative he and the Senate now dole out in response to the Gulf oil spill. It has been pleading for it.
BP, with able help from Enron, invented carbon cap-and-trade. For Obama to claim or even imply that furiously cramming-down this scheme in response, somehow getting back at the company which Sen. John Kerry now admits helped him write the very bill Obama referred to, is disgraceful either in its ignorance or its dishonesty.
Maybe the press could do its job and find out which it is.
Christopher C. Horner serves as a Senior Fellow at CEI.