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Voice Vets ad

A veteran speaks in an ad launched by the Vet Voice Foundation on March 21, 2022. (Photo: Vet Voice Foundation/YouTube Screengrab)


Veterans Group Rebukes Big Oil for Exploiting War to 'Plunder' Public Lands

"Today, we are calling them out on their greed and calling on America to move quickly towards a clean energy future."

Jake Johnson

A nonpartisan organization representing more than 1.5 million veterans, military families, and their civilian supporters launched a nationwide ad campaign on Monday condemning the fossil fuel industry for attempting to exploit Russia's war on Ukraine to expand its drilling operations on U.S. public lands.

"Extraordinary profits and deceptive spin are just more of the same from oil and gas CEOs."

The 30-second spot from the Vet Voice Foundation begins with Hal Donahue, an Air Force veteran, noting that leading oil giants such as Shell, Chevron, BP, and Exxon raked in a record-shattering $75 billion in combined profits in 2021.

Despite their banner year, says Donahue, "oil companies keep jacking up our prices," a reference to surging costs at the pump.

"And instead of drilling the sites that are already approved, they're trying to grab more of our public lands," Donahue continues.

The ad, which will air on major television networks and digitally, points to a New York Times story from last month observing that lobbyists for the U.S. oil and gas industry are using Russia's invasion of Ukraine to "push for more drilling at home" to boost supply.

"The administration should release permits for drilling on federal lands, the lobby urged, and push ahead with leasing more tracts for offshore oil and development," the Times reported. The [American Petroleum Institute], which condemned the invasion, also called on President [Joe] Biden to accelerate permits for energy infrastructure and to roll back legal and regulatory uncertainty—industry-speak for getting rules and lawsuits out of the way."

In 2021, the Biden administration approved more drilling permits for public lands than the Trump administration did during its first year in power. After briefly suspending consideration of new drilling leases in response to a recent court ruling, the Biden administration said last week that it will soon resume the approval process.

In an op-ed for The Guardian earlier this month, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) noted that the U.S. oil and gas industry "already controls at least 26 million acres of public land and is sitting on more than 9,000 approved drilling permits they're not using."

"With the facts laid bare, we see the fossil fuel industry's crocodile tears for what they are—the same old demands for cheaper leases and looser regulations they've been peddling for decades," Grijalva wrote. "These pleas have nothing to do with countering [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's invasion or stabilizing gas prices, and everything to do with making oil and gas development as easy and profitable as possible."

Janessa Goldbeck, a Marine Corps veteran and CEO of the Vet Voice Foundation, expressed a similar view in a statement on Monday, declaring that "extraordinary profits and deceptive spin are just more of the same from oil and gas CEOs who have for decades jacked up prices at the expense of consumers, all while demanding more government giveaways and minimizing the role of fossil fuels in heating the planet."

"Veterans and military families are not going to stand by while oil and gas companies exploit a crisis to plunder more of our nation's public lands," said Goldbeck. "Today, we are calling them out on their greed and calling on America to move quickly towards a clean energy future."

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