Sheila McNulty Industry takes battles against moratorium, new taxes to streets

The oil industry is taking its lobbying to the streets on September 1, when it will stage rallies in three Texas cities – Houston, Port Arthur and Corpus Christi.

The American Petroleum Institute, a key organiser, says more than 5,000 people - and more likely 7,000 considering RSVPs from oil and gas companies, supporting agricultural and other companies – are expected to show up.

The last time the industry held a rally it did fill the venue as companies urged their staff to attend in hope of drumming up support for the industry.

The oil industry is the lifeblood of Texas. The API, the industry’s national trade organisation, estimates the oil and natural gas industry supports more than 1.7m jobs in Texas and accounts for almost 25 per cent of the state’s economy.  

Many in the industry are upset with the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf, which followed the BP oil well explosion and spill as it is delaying drilling plans and postponing production.

There are also fears the US government will respond at the end of the moratorium (November) with more restrictive regulations at a time when parts of the industry is already suffering with both the moratorium and the state of the economy.

In addition, the industry plans to use the rally to object to proposals being discussed in Washington to impose further taxes on the industry. According to  Jack Gerard, the API’s president, who is backing the rallies:

The focus of the rallies will be jobs and the economy. US unemployment is high, and Americans have growing concerns over the economic recovery.

Whether it does any good remains to be seen. Following the API’s last big demonstration – against climate change legislation – the issues did, indeed, drop off the table. But I cannot help but wonder if the fickle American public, more so than industry lobbying, was responsbile.