Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Politicians for sale

Trump’s promises to Big Oil in exchange for campaign cash raise troubling questions


Rarely has a presidential candidate been so blunt. During a meeting with some of the country’s top oil executives at Mar-a-Lago last month, Donald Trump reportedly pushed them to raise a billion dollars to send him back to the White House.
The payoff? He’d eliminate dozens of environmental policies put in place by the Biden administration to reduce air pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions, limit toxic chemicals and conserve wild lands.
President Biden’s policies are supported by huge majorities of Americans, most of whom line up firmly behind cleaner air and water, protection of public lands, and fighting climate change. But such policies have been a nuisance to the well-heeled oil and gas executives who are lining up to help fund Trump’s run for a second term (and a get-out-of-jail-free card). Trump makes no secret, of course, of whose side he’s on and that he views the presidency in purely transactional terms, so such a blatant quid pro quo isn’t a surprise. Yet, the fact that so much of Trump’s campaign cash ends up in his own pocket makes his pitch nearly indistinguishable from a solicited bribe.
Keep in mind, the oil executives doing the complaining have been wallowing in money. Over the past two years, under the Biden administration, companies like Exxon and Chevron have made near-record profits, in part due to the impact of the war in Ukraine as well as continuing sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, which continue to limit global supply. But, as Trump would no doubt say, you can always be richer and to hell with the planet. Just tell yourself that climate change is a hoax, dirty air builds character, and endangered species should pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
Some of Biden’s critics are trying to blame his environmental policies for gas prices that have risen since the early days of the pandemic, even though they’ve dropped since the peaks in 2023.
The fact is, despite the Biden administration’s progress on environmental protection, oil production in the U.S. is booming. Indeed, oil production is not only higher under Biden than at any point during the Trump administration, it is higher than ever recorded in any country at any time in history. Which makes the point that the U.S. isn’t going to produce its way to lower gas prices.
Keep in mind, that’s not American oil coming out of the ground in North Dakota, Texas, or California. Once produced, its owned by the oil companies of the world and they don’t give American consumers a discount just because it’s extracted here. Oil is a global commodity and the geopolitics are complex and are certainly not dictated from the White House anymore.
Trump says if elected, he’ll “drill, baby, drill,” but Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true, and this is one of them. The president doesn’t drill for oil, nor does the administration. The federal government sells leases for oil and gas drilling and the oil companies get around to drilling on those leases when they feel it’s most profitable— and thousands of those leases sit untapped to this day. The oil sector has finally learned over the years that bringing a whole lot of new capacity online whenever the price rises serves only to drive down the oil price, and oil profits along with it.
In either case, federal lands only comprise about ten percent of the land leased for oil and gas drilling. The vast majority of federal leases are on private land.
Here’s a reality check: electing Trump won’t cut two cents off the price of gas at the pump. Issuing more leases as thousands of leases already issued sit unused won’t boost oil production in the U.S. Promising to “drill, baby, drill” may elicit cheers at a Trump rally, but it’s as empty as all the other promises Trump made and then ignored over the years.
But by kowtowing to the Exxons and Chevrons of the world, Trump is helpfully reminding us what it’s like to have a president who is for sale. If he’s willing to do the oil industry’s bidding for money, whose other interests is he willing to serve for the next payoff? Trump made it clear in his first term that he viewed the office of the presidency as his, not the nation’s. Like Trump bibles, Trump steaks, and Trump sneakers, it’s just another over-hyped product to be sold to the highest bidder. Anyone who believes America’s interests will be part of the calculation, should start actually listening to what Donald Trump is saying. It’s scary.