For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Erin Jensen

Big Oil Lobbying on BLM Flaring Rule Exposed

New disclosure filings reveal lobbying bonanza as clock runs to zero

WASHINGTON - New analysis of Congressional lobbying reports by Friends of the Earth reveals that during the first quarter of 2017 oil companies lobbied Congress extensively to kill an Obama-era regulation designed to charge royalties for natural gas wasted on public lands. One of these key lobbyists, Mike Catanzaro, now works as a top energy policy aide for Trump.

The Bureau of Land Management rule aims to reduce activities like the burning away—or flaring—of natural gas on public and tribal lands.

Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to cancel the rule. The House of Representatives passed a resolution reversing the flaring rule in February. The measure could advance through the Senate this week barely in advance of this week’s deadline.

“The Senate vote is a stark choice between oil companies and the American public,” said Lukas Ross, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Senators can fall in line behind Trump’s agenda and hand our public lands over to Big Oil, or they can support a common sense regulation that protects taxpayers and the climate.”

Highlights from the reports include:

The firm CGCN represented three prominent fracking companies—EnCana, Devon, and Noble—in lobbying the House and Senate on the flaring rule. Mike Catanzaro, a current White House staffer, was at CGCN and registered as a lobbyist for all three companies advocating on flaring and other issues.

ExxonMobil lobbied directly on the flaring regulations, and also hired three external firms who all disclosed lobbying against the flaring rule on the company’s behalf.  A previously filed Freedom of Information Request indicates that ExxonMobil, and its subsidiary XTO, benefit considerably from royalty-free natural gas on public lands, securing an estimated $203 million in free gas through flaring and onsite use between 2004 and 2014.

ExxonMobil and Anadarko both hired the Nickles Group to lobby Congress on their behalf, including on the specific subject of the flaring rule. Former U.S. Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.) is listed as a registered lobbyist for both companies in the first quarter.

The full list of relevant lobbying disclosures assembled through the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets database is available here.

A previously published report from Friends of the Earth analyzing the companies benefitting the most from royalty-free flaring is available here.


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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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