Ivy League Universities Pushing Oil Industry Agenda With No Accountability

Columbia CGEP Oil Export Debate

Harold Hamm isn’t the kind of guy you’d expect to be name dropping Ivy League schools. Born in Oklahoma, his education ended with his graduation from high school. Which didn’t stop him from becoming a multi-billionaire by building his own oil and gas fracking company, Continental Resources — a company that bills itself as “America’s Oil Champion.”

So for a self-made man from oil country, it wasn’t surprising to see a PowerPoint slide with the bullet points “Rigs, Rednecks, and Royalties” during his presentation this June at the annual Energy Information Administration conference in Washington, D.C. Although when he referred to the oil producing sections of the U.S. as “Cowboyistan” it didn’t get the laugh he was probably expecting.

What was a bit surprising was to see him touting the work of Columbia and Harvard to support his argument to lift the ban on exporting crude oil produced in the US.

There have been a dozen studies so far, everyone of them come[sic] out with the same thing - lower gasoline prices….These are not folks who write about our industry all the time. We’re talking Columbia, we’re talking Harvard…”

Now, Hamm’s attempt to distance Columbia and Harvard from the oil industry was probably a clever tactic and not based on ignorance. Hamm has probably spent more time in D.C. this year than some members of Congress.

From the EIA conference to multiple appearances before congressional committees, Hamm has been pushing to get the oil export ban lifted.

Either way, he is wrong to say that Columbia and Harvard don’t write about the oil industry all of the time.

At Columbia University there is a rather new division of the school that does just that called the Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP).

Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) School Thrives at Columbia

If you were looking for a success story in starting up a brand new group at your university and having it very quickly jump into a leading role in the national energy policy debate, Columbia’s CGEP represents the gold standard. On the surface the formula is pretty simple, although perhaps not easily replicated without some deep-pocketed funders.

First, get a high-level person with a White House pedigree to lead it. In this case the Center’s director Jason Bordoff, former special assistant to President Obama and senior director for energy and climate change on the staff of the National Security Council. Bordoff was hired to lead the Center from its inception a little over two years ago.

Next, line up powerful figures from the energy industry to join the group.

Like Daniel Yergin, about whom Time magazine said, “If there's one man whose opinion matters more than any other on global energy markets, it's Daniel Yergin.” Yergin is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Prize. It’s quite a coup to start up a brand new group and land the most influential man in global energy markets.

And if you want to be influential in the oil markets, it is always good to have someone like Robert McNally, George Bush’sformer top energy advisor during the run up to the Iraq war.

Then put together a group of former high ranking government officialsmilitary leadersoil tanker brokersinvestment bankers and oil company executives as advisors — a virtual dream team of influential people if your goal was to push the agenda of the oil and gas industry and influence policy.

What could possibly draw in so many heavy hitters to a brand new and unproven group?

While the CGEP website makes references to climate science, it becomes quite apparent after reviewing the list of advisors that they don’t appear to want any advice on climate science or renewable energy.

Since its inception, lifting the crude oil export ban has been a top priority of CGEP. In January, the center partnered with theRhodium Group to issue a report called “Navigating the U.S. Oil Export Debate.” They have held star-studded panel discussions on the issue where every person on the panel agreed the ban should be lifted.

Jason Bordoff has testified in Congress about lifting the ban. Daniel Yergin has used his high profile to make pushing to end the ban his top priority for the past two years.

So when Harold Hamm says that we should all agree to lift the ban because of a report put out by Columbia — saying “these are not folks who write about our industry all the time” — he couldn’t be more wrong.

Most people associated with Columbia’s CGEP not only write and talk and create reports that are favorable to the oil industry all the time, many, like Daniel Yergin, work directly for companies that will profit from the lifting of the ban. However, Yergin’s association with these companies does conveniently fail to appear on the Columbia website.

Documents recently released via a Freedom of Information request by the Sightline Institute reveal how deeply involved Columbia’s CGEP is in the efforts to lift the oil export ban. The records reveal a paper trail of how an industry-funded report by Yergin via his employer IHS makes its way to the policy makers in government.

In a rather sparse email, Yergin forwards the new IHS study supporting lifting the ban to Bordoff.





Go to NY State Page
origin Blog: 
origin Author: 
Comments Count: 
Showing 0 comments