PLUMMETING OIL PRICES are good news for drivers—and for lobbyists. With oil prices continuing to drop, the Houston Chronicle reports that, although the price drop is hurting drilling companies, the oil industry plans to ramp up lobbying efforts in favor of continued tax breaks and decreased regulation.
The industry argues that these elements are necessary to keep prices low. The Associated Press reports that Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, claims that while the low oil prices will hurt some companies in the short term, the U.S. is on its way to becoming a global leader in oil production as long as it continues to offer the industry tax breaks and no new regulations.
Oil companies are certainly willing to spend to ensure that beneficial policies stay in place. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry spent more than $50 million on lobbying in 2014, and with the Keystone XL pipeline still in limbo, it seems likely that they’ll continue to be big spenders in 2015.
By the same token, the sudden drop in oil prices is actually harming green energy policies that were put in place as a result of high oil prices. The Wall Street Journal notes that the Obama administration spent billions on initiatives to boost sales of electric and hybrid vehicles, along with consumer rail projects, but as gas prices fall, consumers are again returning to trucks and SUVs. Although gas prices are expected to remain low throughout 2015, many of the policies
Given the impact of gas prices on the daily lives of most Americans, it’s no surprise that a sudden fluctuation can throw lawmakers and lobbyists into policy limbo. Whether the steep decline of oil prices will have longer-term policy implications remains to be seen, but both oil companies and environmental advocates will try to make themselves heard on Capitol Hill.