Fossil fuel-funded group attacks Hassan for making them pay to clean up their pollution


Oil and gas companies do not need to pass their tax burden on to New Hampshire consumers, contrary to a new ad's claims.

A new ad from a right-wing dark money group attacks Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) for voting to make oil and gas companies pay to clean up their pollution. Both the ad's sourcing and much of the tax-exempt organization's funding come from the oil and gas industry.

The 30-second ad, credited to the organization One Nation and released on Sept. 27, warns that winter is coming in New Hampshire: "Sen. Maggie Hassan and D.C. liberals voted for new energy taxes on home heating oil, just as New Hampshire families brace for winter. Nearly $12 billion in higher taxes on oil and gas, sticking you with the bill."

Small text on the screen sources the claim to Hassan's August vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and climate change infrastructure and expanded affordable health care. The ad also cites a press release from the American Petroleum Institute, the mammoth trade association that represents American fossil fuel interests.

API President and CEO Mike Sommers criticized the new law's corporate tax provisions, calling it an "$11.7 billion tax on crude oil and petroleum products" and "simply the wrong policies at the wrong time."

Contrary to the ad's assertion, there's no reason fossil fuel companies would need to pass their own tax burden on to New Hampshire consumers. The $11.7 billion total estimated taxes over a decade amount to less than a quarter of what large oil and gas companies made in profits in the second quarter of 2022 alone. Companies could use those profits to pay the new taxes rather than pass them on to customers through higher rates.

The provision in question is actually an excise tax on oil and gas, charged to companies and paid into the federal government's Superfund program. The Superfund money then goes to fund for cleanup of the areas those companies have helped to pollute.

According to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who pushed for its inclusion, the provision brings back a tax that expired in 1995 and was not renewed by the then-Republican-controlled Congress.

"Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, American taxpayers will not have to pay for the mistakes of corporate polluters," Pallone said in an August press release. "I'm pleased that the tax on oil and petroleum companies will now be reinstated. With this new funding source, the Environmental Protection Agency will be able to tackle more cleanups and address cleanup backlogs years in the making."

Because it is a 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organization, One Nation is not legally required to disclose its donors. But the pro-GOP group is an offshoot of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads groups, which spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect Republicans. It is also closely linked with the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that backs Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP allies.

According to research by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, some of One Nation's donors have disclosed their own contributions. Those include seven-figure contributions in recent years from large oil and gas companies, including Southern Company, Andeavor, and ConocoPhillips.

The group's ads make no mention of the oil and gas industry funding.

In July, it ran a different ad blaming Hassan for high gasoline prices and inflation, accusing her of blocking domestic energy production. But the group appears to have changed its tactics as gas prices have dropped. According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of gas fell from $4.27 at the end of July to $3.78 at the end of September — a 49-cent dip.

One Nation did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

The Inflation Reduction Act's clean energy incentives are estimated to save consumers who opt to install new electric pumps for home and water heating and to buy electric cars an estimated $1,800 per year.

Hassan praised the legislation in August after President Joe Biden signed it into law.

"At a time when Americans have seen their heating and cooling bills rise and high prices at the pump, this law takes meaningful steps to lower energy costs by cutting taxes for families and investing in clean energy technology," she said in a statement.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.