The Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig arrives aboard a transport ship, following a journey across the Pacific, in view of the Olympic Mountains in Port Angeles, Wash. on April 17, 2015.
Photo by Daniella Beccaria/

Big Oil can count on its allies in Trump’s Washington

Quick quiz: can you name the first policy legislation Donald Trump signed into law? Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

The Obama administration required oil companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments, and one of the very first things the Republican-led Congress tackled was a bill to kill that regulation. In early February 2017, the president signed it, describing the policy as “a big deal.

The industry lobbyists who championed the measure certainly thought so.

The move was a harbinger of sorts for an administration that seems determined to help Big Oil and its interests. This was evident a couple of weeks ago when the Trump administration announced it’s scaling back drilling safeguards created after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was followed a week later by the unveiling of a new plan to vastly expand coastal oil drilling.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported the other day that Trump’s tax plan included a specific tax break that oil companies were pleased to receive.

Congressional Republicans allowed a tax on oil companies that generated hundreds of millions of dollars annually for federal oil-spill response efforts to expire [on Jan. 1] – a move that amounts to another corporate break in the wake of lawmakers’ sweeping tax overhaul late last month.

The tax on companies selling oil in the United States generated an average of $500 million in federal revenue per year, according to the Government Accountability Office. The money, collected through a 9 cents-per-barrel tax on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products, constituted the main source of revenue for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

It’s worth emphasizing that the per-barrel tax may yet be reinstated – a move some congressional Democrats already support – but as things stand right now, this is another one of those industry breaks included in the Republican tax plan that few noticed until now.

The larger point, of course, is that in Trump’s Washington, Big Oil has allies it can count on. Indeed, as The New Republic’s Emily Atkin recently noted, it’s also worth remembering that the new Republican tax plan “allows oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which had previously been off-limits due to dangerous, icy conditions and ecologically sensitive environment,” and is “expected to add $1 billion in profits to U.S. oil and gas exploration and production companies” through corporate tax breaks.

When Trump World talks about championing the interests of “the forgotten men and women,” perhaps they’re referring to oil industry executives?