Sessions’ Family Invested in Oil & Gas Company the Same Year He Aimed to Deregulate Fracking

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Seth Gladstone – sgladstone@fwwatch.org

Sessions’ Family Invested in Oil & Gas Company the Same Year He Aimed to Deregulate Fracking

Advocacy Group Raises New Questions Around Wife’s Big Investment In Energen

WASHINGTON - As Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions faces confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Food & Water Watch is raising questions about new information regarding family holdings in an oil and gas company as Sessions sought to deregulate fracking.

In 1999, Sessions was the sole co-sponsor of a bill introduced by Senator James Inhofe to exempt underground injections of fracking-related fluids from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The bill—the original Halliburton Loophole—was eventually folded into the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Through information obtained via Opensecrets.org, Food & Water Watch discovered that the same year Senator Sessions introduced the legislation, he and his wife acquired a larger stake in Energen, an Alabama-based oil and gas company that had pioneered fracking in the state.

In 1995, as Sessions was running for a Senate seat, he and his wife held between $1,001-$15,000 in Energen stock. They reported the same for 1996, 1997 and 1998. But in 1999 — the year Inhofe and Sessions introduced the bill to exempt Energen’s fracking operations from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act — the Senator reported that his wife had separately acquired an additional stake in the company, valued at $15,000-$50,0000.

In 2008, Sessions and his wife cashed out the stock. After averaging about $5 a share in 1995, Energen stock hit a year-long high of $78 a share in May of 2008.

“Senator Sessions’ attempt to deregulating fracking at a time his wife was acquiring a large stake in an oil and gas company that would directly benefit raises many questions,” says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It adds to the many other ethics questions that are swirling around his nomination—not to mention his troubling civil rights record.”

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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