Speakers at IPAA’s annual meeting laud industry, see tough election ahead

By Kurt Abraham, Editor-in-Chief on 11/8/2019

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) kicked off the first day of its annual meeting Thursday, with two Capitol Hill insiders sorting out the issues for attendees, along with predictions of a tough 2020 election.

Trumpeting the record of President Donald Trump in boosting U.S. energy, Sen. John Barrosso (R-Wyo.) said, “When he came to office, President Trump pledged to unleash energy, and that’s what he’s done. You can’t make a total correlation between energy and the stock market, but it’s up another 200 points today.”

Barrosso said that one of the reasons that the U.S. is back in (healthy) business is because of energy. He then chastised the Democratic side for complaining about fossil fuels but having no reasonable alternative that would not break the country economically. “It seems that the other side’s plan is ‘cold, hungry and dark.’”

The senator told IPAA attendees that while the Trump administration has done much to improve the oil and gas situation, the industry is going to have to work harder to win hearts and minds among the general population. “A lot of people in this town (Washington) don’t do good math. And a well-told story beats arithmetic in this town every time,” explained Barrosso. “Where we’re losing the battle is on the emotional angle.”

Nevertheless, the industry’s record of achievement is something to celebrate, said the senator. “What you folks have done with oil and gas has raised the standard of living for everyone in the country. Yet, the biggest missing link in energy has been political leadership, so that’s why I’m so glad that President Trump is in the White House.”

One side benefit to the industry, when it comes to litigation launched against producers, is Trump’s achievement in replacing so many federal judges with conservative, industry-friendlier jurists. “One out of every four federal judges is now a recent appointment by President Trump. In fact, on the 9th Federal Circuit, there are now a couple of conservative judges on a very liberal panel.”

Barrosso confessed to being fatigued and frustrated in dealing with the Democrats and their supporters on climate change. “The arguments we run into with the Democrats are phenomenal—to me, they are climate alarmists, because emissions in the U.S. have been dropping. Of course, they’re going up in China and India, and elsewhere. But we’re not the problem.”

As regards fracing, New York and Pennsylvania appear to be polar opposites, observed Barrosso. “One (New York) has banned fracing, and the other (Pennsylvania) has embraced it. The difference in the price of natural gas for heating between New York and Pennsylvania is phenomenal.”

Referring to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) plan to get all gasoline-powered vehicles off the road by 2040, Barrosso said it sounds like the old Obama “cash for clunkers plan on steroids.”

On the subject of the industry needing to work hard to get more like-minded people elected to federal office, Barosso said, “There’s simply no substitute for getting the right people in office You need people, who think like you do. Losers don’t legislate. That’s why this election is so important.”

Earlier in the morning, Amy Walter, national editor for The Cook Political Report, briefed the IPAA crowd on the political/electoral landscape for 2020, as it relates to the upstream industry. Walter called the 2020 contest an “odd election,” because the electorate seems to have a “strong dislike for both candidates,” a reference to President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden who would be the most likely match-up.

Biden, she elaborated, can’t win the Democratic nomination despite being able to win the election. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren can win the nomination but can’t win the election, Walter said. That scenario appears to give Trump an advantage. Furthermore, she noted, Biden is seen as most able to beat Trump, but somehow he can’t raise enough funds.

Walter told attendees to expect a record election turn-out in 2020, with healthcare, energy and guns as major issues. “Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are going to be key states in the Electoral College.”

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