miércoles, 10 de mayo de 2017

Halliburton In Colorado: Board Member’s Donation Shows Power Of Oil And Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry in Colorado has political influence: A Halliburton worker. Photo: Reuters


A top fossil fuel industry official poured $40,000 into the Colorado Republican Party’s super PAC on the same day the state’s legislature began considering a bill to limit the oil and gas industry’s fracking and drilling near schools, according to state documents reviewed by International Business Times. Soon after the contribution from Halliburton board member J. Landis Martin, Republican lawmakers lined up against the legislation. They eventually killed it — days before a deadly blast at a home near an oil well in Northeastern Colorado.

Halliburton has a large presence in Colorado. The company says it employs 1,900 people in operations across the state; it bankrolled a 2012 effort to defeat municipal fracking regulations in the state; and it has a top executive on the executive board of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association —  an industry lobbying group that fought the setback legislation, according to state records. (Halliburton is a member of the COGA and has touted its links to the group in the past.)

Martin not only serves on Halliburton’s board, he is also chairman of a private equity firm that invests in a Colorado-based company that provides fracking materials to fossil fuel operations in the state and elsewhere.

Martin’s March 14th donation was one of the single largest individual contributions in the Colorado Republican Party’s modern history, and the second largest ever given to the party’s super PAC, according to data from the National Institute on Money In State Politics.

Colorado is one of 29 states with campaign finance laws designed to discourage fundraising during legislative sessions. Martin’s contribution, however, appeared to legally flow around that statute because it went to the Colorado Republican Party’s independent expenditure committee, which supports legislators —  but not directly to the legislators themselves.

Martin told IBT the donation was unrelated to the setback bill, which would have clarified that the 1,000 foot limit between schools and new oil and gas wells started at the edge of school property, not at school buildings themselves.

“I was totally unaware of that legislation,” Martin said. “I’ve never had any interest really in any Colorado legislation. Most of my businesses are outside of Colorado.”

When asked why he made the donation if he had no interest in Colorado politics, Martin replied: “I’m supportive of all Republican causes.” He also denied his political contribution had any connection to oil and gas interests.

“I don’t really follow the state legislature there,” said Martin, who is a prominent philanthropist in Colorado. He also told an interviewer in 2013 he moved to Denver in 1981.

Democratic Representative Mike Foote, who introduced the setback bill on March 14th, told IBT that while it is impossible to draw a direct connection between specific donations and GOP votes against his bill, the situation illustrates how the GOP’s fundraising strategy can influence its legislative agenda.

“It’s no secret that the oil and gas industry are big contributors to the Republican Party -- so this doesn’t surprise me,” he told IBT. “The oil and gas industry gives large sums of money to Republicans and for Republicans to then vote against what the oil and gas industry wants would not be not a good way to keep those contributions going.”

Scrutiny Of Oil And Gas Industry Intensifying After Explosion

Colorado’s oil and gas industry is facing intensifying scrutiny after an April 17th explosion at a Firestone home near an oil well owned by Anadarko. State investigators have connected the blast, which killed two people, to a faulty gas line. The deadly accident occurred just after Colorado Senate Republicans sided with oil and gas lobbyists and blocked the setback bill….

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