McCain's Big Oil Ties: Pt 1


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2008
By Nikolas Kozloff
Thu, 28 Aug 2008 10:38:28 -0500

From Iraq to Colombia, the "maverick" is knee-deep in crude

When you consider John McCain’s ties to Big Oil, the GOP candidate’s claim to be a political maverick taking on special interests is nothing short of absurd. According to Progressive Media USA, a Washington, DC-based non-profit, the Arizona Senator has benefited handily from the oil sector. Indeed, McCain has netted at least $700,000 from the oil and gas industry since 1989.

In Congress, he has worked tirelessly to advance the interests of the oil industry. For example, McCain’s tax plan gives the top five oil companies $3.8 billion a year in tax breaks. McCain meanwhile has voted against reducing dependence on foreign oil, has twice rejected windfall profits tax for Big Oil, and has voted against taxing oil companies to provide a $100 rebate to consumers. If that were not enough, McCain also made a risky political decision recently to back new offshore oil drilling in the US.

McCain, Iraq and Chevron

Moreover, oil companies that have contributed to McCain have benefited greatly in terms of their foreign operations. One might cite the case of Chevron, for example, which has donated to McCain’s cloak-and-dagger International Republican Institute (IRI). Though the Arizona Senator seldom talks about it, he has gotten much of his foreign policy experience working with the operation. Since 1993, McCain has served as chair of the outfit, which is funded by the US government and private money. The group, which receives tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, claims to promote democracy worldwide.

The hottest country in which IRI currently operates is Iraq. According to the IRI’s own web site, since the summer of 2003 the organization “has conducted a multi-faceted program aimed at promoting the development of democracy in Iraq. Toward this end, IRI works with political parties, indigenous civil society groups, and elected and other government officials. In support of these efforts, IRI also conducts numerous public opinion research projects and assists its Iraqi partners in the production of radio and television ads and programs.”

Prior to 2003, McCain was one of the biggest proponents of invading Iraq. Now that US forces are installed in the Middle Eastern nation, McCain wants the occupation to continue indefinitely, even for “a thousand” or “a million years.” Upon closer scrutiny, it is clear that oil companies have benefited from McCain’s hawkish Iraq policy. Though George Bush has scoffed at suggestions that the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with oil, recent press reports give some credence to such claims.

In April of this year, Chevron announced that it was involved in discussions with the Iraqi Oil Ministry to increase production in an important oil field in southern Iraq. The discussions were aimed at finalizing a two-year deal, or technical support agreement, to boost production at the West Qurna Stage 1 oil field near Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city. Since McCain solidified his position as the GOP’s nominee, Chevron Chairman David O’Reilly gave $28,500 to the GOP. Meanwhile lobbyist Wayne Berman, McCain’s national finance co-chairman, counts Chevron as one of his principal clients.

Colombia’s Oil Profile

Another war-torn country attracting McCain’s attention is Colombia. In early July, McCain took valuable time out of his presidential campaign to visit the Andean nation. Catching a fast ride on a Colombian drug interdiction boat near Cartagena, McCain praised the government for prosecuting the drug war and making “substantial and positive” progress on human rights. Contrasting himself to his presidential opponent Barack Obama, McCain endorsed the pending trade deal with the South American country.

For the most part, the US media ignores Colombia. When it does cover the Andean nation, it tends to focus on drug-related issues and cocaine production. As a result, the US public doesn’t know that Colombia is also a huge oil producer and that the US has important economic interests in this part of the world. US officials would like to guarantee a safe and steady supply of crude from neighboring countries like Venezuela and Colombia, thus lessening dependence on Middle East providers. Today, Colombia is the United States’ 12th largest foreign oil supplier (and third largest in South America after Venezuela and Ecuador) and ships 150,000 barrels of oil per day to the American market.

According to Oil and Gas Journal, Colombia had 1.45 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves in 2007, the fifth-largest in South America. The bulk of Colombia’s crude oil production occurs in the Andes foothills and the eastern Amazonian jungles. However, vast unexplored and potentially hydrocarbon-rich territories remain in the country, which shares many of the geological features of oil-rich neighbor Venezuela.

Since 1999, Colombia’s government has undertaken extraordinary measures to make the investment climate more attractive to foreign oil companies (in this sense, Colombia differs from other South American countries which have adopted a more nationalistic oil policy). The authorities for example have allowed petroleum corporations to own 100 percent stakes in oil ventures. The government has also established a lower, sliding-scale royalty rate on oil projects, mandated longer exploration licenses and forced the state-owned oil company Ecopetrol to compete with private operators. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the measures “have contributed to creating one of the most attractive oil investment regimes in the world.”

McCain’s Colombia Ties

One firm attracted by the generous new financial terms has been Chevron, the same company that contributed to McCain’s campaigns and the IRI and which has benefited handsomely from the opening up of Iraqi fields. In association with Ecopetrol, Chevron operates the Ballena and Riohacha natural gas fields in the Guajira province of northeastern Colombia. Chevron’s total daily average production in 2007 was 469 million cubic feet of gas per day.

But McCain’s Colombia ties go much deeper than this.

As Sam Stein noted on the Huffington Post, McCain’s “position as an independent arbitrator on Colombia—a country often criticized for its labor and human rights practices—is undermined by a bevy of advisers who have earned large amounts either lobbying for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, or representing corporations that do business with that country.”

To get a sense of the scope of McCain’s conflict of interest on Colombia one need look no farther than Charlie Black, a senior adviser to the Arizona senator. A successful 60-year-old Washington lobbyist, Black is a notorious figure within the GOP. Over the course of his career he has gained a reputation as a ruthless operator with a merciless instinct for exposing an opponent’s flaws.

Black, who enjoyed stints as campaign operator for George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, got to know John McCain in the late 1970s when the future Arizona senator worked as the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. In 1996, the pair became close while working on Senator Phil Gramm’s failed presidential bid. Today, Black is a frequent McCain campaign surrogate on television. On the trail he sits in a big swivel chair at the front of the “Straight Talk Express,” joining in McCain’s rolling news conferences.

Black’s Washington, DC public relations firm BKSH has developed a reputation for taking on foreign clients who display scant regard for human rights. In 1998, Black agreed to represent Occidental Petroleum (or Oxy), an energy company based in Los Angeles, California. At the time, the GOP spin master was surely aware of Occidental’s sordid past. In Colombia, the company had already acquired a reputation for its brutal and militaristic policies.
"According to Progressive Media USA.." - Socialist Slander Mill

Octoldit, do you have the balls to engage in conversation, or are you just here to copy and paste this Socialist filth?

So... Octoldit, you don't use ANY oil at all right? I hope you would have the courage of your convictions and live without using any oil or oil based products. Of course, given the amount of oil needed to make your computer and its components, you are more part of the problem than you are the solution.

What can replace oil for all the things we use it for Octoldit? Can you answer that question? Don't be scared to admit that nothing can replace oil and we need it to survive....