Home News House Democrats launch investigation into Trump’s alleged offers to oil executives | Fossil fuels

House Democrats launch investigation into Trump’s alleged offers to oil executives | Fossil fuels

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House Democrats launch investigation into Trump’s alleged offers to oil executives | Fossil fuels

House Democrats have launched an investigation into a meeting between oil company executives and Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago home and club last month, following reports that the former president offered to dismantle Biden’s environmental rules and requested $1bn in contributions to his presidential campaign.

Democrats on the House oversight committee late on Monday evening sent letters to nine oil executives requesting information on their companies’ participation in the meeting.

“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,” the Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee, wrote in the letters.

The investigation comes after the Washington Post broke the news of the dinner meeting, where Trump spoke in front of more than 20 fossil fuel executives from companies including Chevron, Exxon and Occidental Petroleum.

It was reported that Trump said steering $1bn into his campaign would be a “deal” for the companies because of the costs they would avoid under him. The former president offered in a second term to immediately end the Biden administration’s freeze on permits for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, while auctioning off more oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and reversing drilling restrictions in the Alaskan Arctic, among other promises.

Oversight Democrats addressed letters to the CEOs of oil giants Chevron and Exxon, liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy, and fossil fuel firms Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources, EQT Corporation, Occidental Petroleum and Venture Global.

They also sent an inquiry to the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the fossil fuel industry’s top lobbying arm in the US.

Asked about the investigation, API spokesperson Andrea Woods said the organization “meets with policymakers and candidates from across the political spectrum on topics important to our industry”.

Reports of the meeting are especially troubling, Raskin wrote in the letters, in light of revelations in Politico earlier last week that stated the oil industry is writing up “ready-to-sign executive orders” for Trump aimed at increasing gas exports, slashing drilling costs and increasing offshore oil leases.

He asked the executives to provide the names and titles of any company representatives who attended the Mar-a-Lago meeting, copies of materials shared with the attendees, descriptions of rules and policies discussed at the event, and an account of financial contributions to the Trump campaign made at the event or afterward.

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The junior senator from Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, who chairs the Senate budget committee, has expressed interest in launching an investigation into the meeting as well. “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,” he said in an emailed statement.

Compared with Raskin’s, Whitehouse’s investigation would have a significant advantage: if the companies refuse to turn over information, the Senate budget committee can file subpoenas. Because Republicans have a House majority, House Democrats do not have the power to subpoena documents.

A joint investigation by the Senate budget committee and House oversight Democrats revealed last month that big oil admits that it spent years covering up the dangers of burning fossil fuels, and that major oil companies lobbied against climate laws and regulations they have publicly claimed to support.

“Fossil fuel malfeasance will cost Americans trillions in climate damages, and the budget committee is looking at how to ensure the industry cannot simply buy off politicians in order to saddle taxpayers with the bill,” said Whitehouse.

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