Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Mad Dash For Cash-- Fred Upton, Aubrey McClendon And Big Gas Vs. Big Oil


Fred Upton (R-MI) and Aubrey McClendon are attempting to commandeer the natural gas market. Aubrey is the CEO of the largest shale oil interest in the world, Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy; Fred is the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. No records of them meeting have been found, despite their relation.

Aubrey's wife is Fred's cousin-- the shared Whirlpool heiress Kate Upton. Fred and Aubrey have been neighbors, more or less, for 30 years. Most recently, Aubrey persuaded Jack Nicklaus to build a course on their land and beyond... he convinced the PGA Tour to play an event in their backyard starting in 2012.

Even more recently Fred bought more stock in Aubrey's company-- a half million dollars in 2010.

Fred has said that he would be more than open to the requirements for disclosure regarding his position. But is he really? Or is he sticking with Cantor, Boehner, Ryan and McKeon in watering down insider trading disclosure?

In September of 2011 Fred commissioned his committee to produce a video that was pro natural gas and one that is pro-Aubrey, one that mirrors the thoughts of Chesapeake Energy and Aubrey McClendon.

Aubrey McClendon is spending over 5 million dollars this year to lobby for H.R. 1380, The Natural Gas Act-- this does not include campaigns money-– hard and soft dollars.

Fred Upton will be contested by Big Oil in a primary funded by Grover Nordquist and the Tea Party, who are running right-wing fanatic Jack Hoogendyk. The money that funds this primary against Fred will come from Big Oil and the extreme right. Fred will counter this with natural gas money.

HR 1380 will cover the cost of operations, expansion, and otherwise provide incentives to the American trucking industry to transition from diesel fuel and to begin using their natural gas product.

The Club for Growth and other far right elements of the Republican Party are financed in part by Big Oil. Fred Upton has built a "conservative-consensus" coalition that is based on H.R. 1380 and that appears to have the votes to pass this bill; yes, Upton's pal Aubrey McClinton has outspent everyone. Passage of this bill will serve as a transcendent moment as our transportation industry moves from petroleum to natural gas-- and as a fight-to-the-death between traditional big oil and natural gas and on the surface, between interest groups.

Aubrey has bet long on Chesapeake Energy, and another IPO or two that he has tossed around on--record to the press-- are positioned to make him one of the richest men in the world. Aubrey is one of the top one hundred land owners in America. Aubrey is so confidant in this deal that he has set up his own futures market.

The legislation provides:
• A tax credit for up to 80% of the incremental cost of buying a natural gas vehicle, with a maximum value ranging from $7,500 for a light-duty passenger vehicle to $64,000 for the heaviest trucks. Recognizing the innovations in vehicle engine technology, the bill includes incentives for both bi-fuel vehicles-- those that run on either natural gas or gasoline-- and dual fueled vehicles-- where there is a mixture of small amount of diesel fuel with the natural gas. There are no vehicle tax credits in place today.

• A 50-cent per gallon fuel tax credit that is in place in 2011.

• An infrastructure tax credit of 50% of the cost up to a maximum tax credit of $100,000 per station. For stations built in 2011, there is an existing infrastructure tax credit of 30% with a maximum credit of $30,000. These credits cover only a small portion of the cost of building a station. This credit would also extend to home refueling units, where purchases would be eligible for a $2,000 tax credit.

• A tax credit to the manufacturer for the production of natural gas vehicles.

The bill also includes other provisions that will facilitate the production and use of natural gas vehicles. And remember this from last week? About the DC super lobbyist Michael Bloomquist as General Counsel for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce? Bloomquist was the chief lobbyist for McClendon's American Natural Gas Association. Another reason Blue America is so serious about helping John Waltz replace Upton in Congress. If you can, please consider a contribution, here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

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