Is John Kerry Shilling for Big Oil?

Here’s a noodle-scratcher for you: Senator John Kerry (D-MA) – a self-proclaimed environmentalist and strident believer in manmade global warming – is apparently carrying water for America’s oil and natural gas companies.

What could Senator Kerry and “Big Oil” have in common?  They both support the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which cedes America’s sovereignty and royalties to a United Nation’s subsidiary.

According to a source familiar with his sales pitch to Republicans and conservatives, Senator Kerry claims that “in 5 years most of the Arctic ice will have been melted due to climate change, opening up vast new shipping lanes that will give access to resources that were unreachable before. China and Russia have been pushing to get at those resources. We need to make sure our oil and gas companies have the certainty they need to develop our resources in the Arctic.”

Senator Kerry is trying to sell LOST as a pro-business and pro-energy treaty. Essentially, oil and gas companies cannot have business certainty – especially in the Arctic – without this treaty. It is a finely calculated pitch, pulling in conservative rhetoric on taxes (“certainty”) and the GOP’s fight to expand production of oil and gas resources.

Many in the environmental movement would be surprised to learn that Senator Kerry’s lobbying is remarkably similar to the pitch made by the oil companies lobbying for LOST. Last year, an oil company executive testified before Congress on the benefits of the treaty, as it related to the oil and gas industries.

Regardless of the merits of their arguments as it relates to their business model, the implications of LOST are much broader, and the invested interests are very diverse and often contradictory.  The real question Americans, lawmakers and the media should be asking is whether Senator Kerry is shilling for “Big Oil” or simply playing both sides of the aisle. Remember, groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, Ocean Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Oceana and a host of other environmental groups have lobbied on behalf of the treaty.

On one hand, he is ginning up environmentalists who believe this treaty will “protect” the Arctic; and on the other, he is telling Republicans that it is pro-business and pro-energy.

If we have learned anything from the recent EPA regulations, both sides can’t be right.

But LOST has a way of making strange bedfellows. Earlier this week, the Heritage Foundation pointed out that former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is now being paid to lobby for the Law of the Sea Treaty he vehemently opposed just a few years ago.

As if to highlight that point, we also know that Senator Kerry is in talks with the Chamber of Commerce, which is also lobbying for LOST. He and CEO Tom Donohue were seen attending a Bruins v. Capitals game together.

Has Senator Kerry flip-flopped? It’s hard to tell, but whether you’re on the right or left or somewhere in between, his claims about the treaty deserve scrutiny.

Update (May 10, 2012):
According to press reports, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is also pushing the natural resources angle: “He also laid out the administration’s main arguments in favor or the treaty: that U.S. accession to the treaty would allow the United States to secure mineral rights in a larger geographical area…”

 

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