Monday, February 4, 2008

A New Fox in the Henhouse

Big Oil advocate and Baker Botts attorney, Gregory Copeland has just been nominated to serve as General Counsel for the Department of Energy. A brief look at his bio on the Baker Botts web site confirms that he has spent his career defending the interests of Big Oil. You'll note his representation of Marathon Oil in multiple cases.

It's ironic that, having defended Marathon against charges that they systematically underpaid royalties owed to the Department of Interior/Minerals Management Service (MMS), he is now seen fit by George Bush to perform "public service".

Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley spoke out about the cozy connections between the oil companies and those government officials who are supposed to enforce the laws and ensure oil companies pay for drilling on public lands:

“Unfortunately, evidence suggests that the cozy relationships between MMS officials and oil and gas companies have allowed these companies to underreport the resources they remove from federal lands and underpay the royalties they owe to the federal government. Evidence that MMS has failed to detect and pursue these violations by oil and gas companies is especially troubling as gas prices continue to rise, corporations make record profits and average American are struggling to fill their gas tanks and make ends meet.”

Not to mention that the "cost" our government charges the oil companies for oil taken from public lands is far from the true cost of that oil, as Darksyde wrote on DailyKos:

What is the true cost of a barrel of oil or a tank of gas for US consumers? Difficult to say. But any holistic number would have to partially factor in the damage done to local and regional water tables from refineries and storage facilities, the gigatons of greenhouse gases and other pollutants released, and the hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars and thousands of lives spent in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East to secure cheap oil. Adding insult to injury, consider the lavish tax breaks and sweetheart subsidies the oil industry and Exxon specifically have received from the Bush-Cheney administration courtesy of We the People.

When the U.S. Government prices oil for sale it's already dramatically undervalued, making the systemic failure to collect what the oil companies owe doubly bad. Bringing another big oil company lawyer to the table -- to represent "We the People" of all things -- is certainly not going to tip the scales to the side of justice.

And in case you forgot, Copeland's firm, Baker Botts, are the people who represented Bush in Bush v Gore, the case that stole the Presidency from the American people.

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