LCV Victory Fund Memo: Heading into Iowa’s Republican Caucus, the clear winner is Big Oil | LCV Victory Fund

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LCV Victory Fund Memo: Heading into Iowa’s Republican Caucus, the clear winner is Big Oil

January 12, 2024
David Willett,

TO: Interested Parties
FR: David Willett, SVP, Communications, LCV Victory Fund
RE: Heading into Iowa’s Republican Caucus, the clear winner is Big Oil

In the final week before the presidential primary season truly kicks off with the Iowa Caucus, it has never been more clear that the real winner of the Republican battle for nominee is Big Oil. At their competing televised events, Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Ron DeSantis all professed their commitments to the Oil and Gas industries’ agenda, which had been spelled out by the industry earlier that same day:

Highlights from Trump’s town hall on Fox News include:

  • Trump on being a dictator to benefit Big Oil: “I’m going to be a dictator for one day. We’re going to do two things. The border, we’re going to make it so tight you can’t get in unless you come in legally. And the other is energy. We’re going to drill, baby drill. After that, I’m not going to be a dictator. After that, I’m not going to be a dictator.”
  • Trump on making money for oil companies: “We have more liquid gold under our feet, energy, oil and gas than any other country in the world…And we were going to make a lot of money. We have a lot of potential income.”
  • Trump on clean energy being a “scam” (he’s previously also called climate change a ‘hoax’): “…they ought to go into the energy business instead of this green, new scam business that they’re in.”
  • Trump on… donuts and how it’s all energy?*: “Because energy is so big, it’s such a big deal that when energy goes up, if you make donuts, if you make hamburgers, anything you do, you have trucks that deliver your product, you have to heat your stoves, your ovens, anything you do, it’s all energy. *This is not the first time Trump has talked about donuts in the context of energy, he actually does it a lot. 

Meanwhile at the GOP Candidate Debate on CNN, Haley and DeSantis tried to outdo each other on their pledges to roll back clean energy incentives and focus more on oil and gas:

  • Haley: “So here he [DeSantis] goes and he says that he is all for energy independence. He wants to get the EPA out of the way. Well, why did he run on the fact that he wanted to ban fracking and ban offshore drilling? Why did he go and author that legislation to eliminate the renewable fuel standard that so — that matters so much? And why now is he suddenly coming to Iowa and saying, ‘Oh, never mind, I don’t mean all of that?’ Why did he call Trump and say that he wanted him to stop drilling nine miles into federal waters?”
  • DeSantis: “We’re going to be able to open up production. We’re going to choose Midland over Moscow. We’re going to choose the Marcellus Shale over the mullahs. And we’re going to choose the Bakken over Beijing.”
  • Haley: “The second thing is we’ll roll back all of Biden’s green subsidies because they’re misplaced.”
  • DeSantis: “So, on day one as President, we take Biden’s Green New Deal. We tear it up and we throw it in the trash can. It is bad for this country.”

Big Oil is Smiling All the Way to the Bank: While most people who watched either or both of these events desperately wished they could get that hour of their life back, one person who was likely thrilled with what he heard was president of the American Petroleum Institute, Mike Sommers. Earlier that same day, in Sommers’ address at API’s State of American Energy event, he sounded like he was drafting the talking points Republican candidates would use that night on TV. He criticized the Biden administration’s clean energy policies and said, “Moving forward policy makers must increase energy leasing in federal lands and federal waters, approve permits in a timely manner, and remove barriers to developing America’s resources.”

According to Politico’s coverage of the event: “API supports repealing a number of provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, particularly the methane fee that charges companies for their methane leaks, Sommers told reporters at the association’s annual event in D.C. It does want to maintain the legislation’s 45Q tax credits paying companies to store their carbon dioxide, he said. He added that there was ‘no question’ that API would work with a Republican administration to roll back IRA provisions the industry didn’t like.” This came just a day after API announced an 8-figure propaganda campaign to scare people into relying on oil and gas.

Bad Policy is Bad Politics: The Republican presidential candidates’ fealty to Big Oil does not bode well for them in a general election. Starting with governors’ races in 2017, and continuing with the 2018, 2020, 2022 and last fall’s Virginia elections, voters have continued to reward candidates who champion climate action and clean energy. Recent polling by Hart Research for LCV Victory Fund and Climate Power reinforces that voters want candidates who will stop oil company price gouging, speed the clean energy transition to lower costs, follow scientists, and leave our children and grandchildren a livable world. Voters don’t want candidates who refuse to hold Big Oil accountable and will drive up costs by holding back clean energy progress. Not to mention the many other positions that are out of step with voters, including Trump’s attacks on democracy, inhumane treatment of immigrants, and credit-taking for dismantling Roe v. Wade.

The Good News: The clean energy boom is happening right now thanks to the Biden-Harris administration. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created, tens of thousands are signing up for the American Climate Corps, projects are breaking ground around the country that will reduce costs, make energy more reliable, and break Big Oil’s stranglehold on our economy. There is more work to be done, but in order to keep making progress the choice is clear: while the Biden-Harris administration will take us forward providing more opportunities for abundant, U.S.-made affordable clean energy, and they will continue to prioritize the communities that have been historically harmed or left behind by the energy economy of the past, the Republican candidates would take us backwards and leave us subject to the whims of Big Oil executives who are already raking in record profits.

Paid for by LCV Victory Fund,, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.