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More Fossil-Fueled Bias From CNS

As befits a "news" organization whose parent has accepted money from fossil fuel interests, has repeatedly run to the defense of the oil and gas industry over federal leases and against accusations that they're profiting off of gas price hikes.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/29/2022's parent, the Media Research Center, has taken money from fossil fuel interests in the past, so it's no surprise that it would rely on the industry to rebut Biden administration claims about oil and gas leases on federal land. Melanie Arter seemed annoyed in a March 4 article:
President Biden called for fighting inflation by making more goods in the United States in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but the Biden administration doesn’t hold the same view when it comes to rising gas prices.

Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich asked Thursday, “On gas, you just said that, you know, ‘less supply raises prices,’ it’s not in our strategic interest to reduce the supply. We also know, you know, the President, as recently as yesterday, talked about increasing domestic manufacturing to bring down prices on inflated items like goods. So why not apply the same logic to energy and increase domestic production here?”

“Well, there are 9,000 approved oil leases that the oil companies are not tapping into currently. So I would ask them that question,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Three days later, Craig Bannister cranked up the spin machine to try and shut down the claim:

In an effort to distract from President Joe Biden’s anti-domestic energy policies, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insinuated last Thursday that, because there are nine thousand unused, approved oil leases in the U.S., American oil companies are simply refusing to begin producing domestic oil from them.


Despite Psaki’s insinuation, oil companies can’t simply start using approved oil leases to begin pumping, the fact check explains, noting that it could take up to 10 years of overcoming regulatory hurdles and years of drilling before the oil well of an “approved” lease becomes fruitful:

Bannister went on to quote the right-wing website the National File as evidence. He followed up for a March 8 article by going straight to the oil industry's lobbying group:

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeated last week’s insinuation that, because there are approved oil leases going unused, the oil industry is refusing to increase U.S. production – but, the American Petroleum Institute (API) says that’s a red herring designed to distract from the Biden Administration’s anti-domestic energy policies.

Last Thursday, and again on Monday, Psaki told reporters to ask oil companies why they’re not using nine thousand approved oil drilling permits – a question API’s Kevin O’Scannlain answers in “The Red Herring of Unused Leases,” a blog on the organization’s website.

Oil companies have financial incentive to produce oil on leased federal lands, because they have to pay “rent” and are at risk of losing their leases until they begin producing, O’Scannlain explains:


Plus, it’s not as quick and easy as merely flipping a switch, since it takes years of work to determine whether the leased land even holds enough oil to be commercially viable, O’Scannlain writes.

Then, there’s the long process of overcoming “administrative and legal challenges at every step along the way The lengthy process to develop them from a lease often is extended by administrative and legal challenges at every step along the way.”

“The argument about ‘unused’ leases is a red herring, a smokescreen for energy policies that have had a hamstringing effect,” on oil production, O’Scannlain says.

But Neither Bannister nor O'Scannlain explained where, exactly, in the regulatory process all those 9,000 leases are and when they can be put online.

Bannister mislead his readers by hyping that the Biden administration suspended the issuance of new leases when Biden took office but not reporting that the moratorium had since been lifted, and the Biden administration has issued more drilling permits on federal lands than Trump did. Bannister also misleadingly claimed:

The Biden Administration isn’t just refusing to grant additional leases - it has actually revoked a permit that could bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily to the U.S.

In a controversial move during his first day in office, Pres. Biden revoked the permit allowing extension of the Keystone XL pipeline to Alberta, Canada. If completed, the pipeline could potentially provide the U.S. with more oil than it currently buys from Russia.

In fact, most of the products from Keystone XL oil would likely have been exported. But when you put serving talking points ahead of reporting facts, these kind of things happen. (The Keystone talking points are a whole different set of talking points CNS has pushed.)

Bannister went to industry lobbyists again for a March 22 article:

“How do you know what motivates company business decisions?” a coalition of 10 oil and natural gas trade associations asked President Joe Biden after Biden claimed that companies were refusing to pump more oil, in order to increase their profits.

Last Friday, the coalition sent a letter to Biden, urging him to stop falsely blaming oil and natural gas companies for not producing more due to greed when, in fact, it is his administration’s anti-energy policies that are responsible.

The letter seeks to address “repeated distortions and half-truths that have been expressed by White House officials” and to “set the record straight and provide a bit of context on statements that have been made regarding energy production,” the coalition writes.

Actually, the Dallas Federal Reserve office surveyed 139 oil and gas companies in March about trends in the industry, and one of the questions asked, "Which of the following is the primary reason that publicly traded oil producers are restraining growth despite high oil prices?" Nearly 60 percent responded, "Investor pressure to maintain capital discipline"-- i.e., investors want prices high so they can make money. Less than 10 percent cited "government regulations" as the reason.

Instead of noting that, Bannister let the lobbyists complain that "Language and facts matter." Of course, if they mattered, Bannister would have reported the full truth instead of being a stenographer for industry lobbyists.

Bannister again served as stenographer for the oil industry in order to attack Biden in a March 31 article:

After President Joe Biden delivered a speech Thursday outlining his plan to reduce gas prices, energy groups called the plan short-sighted and said Biden’s speech was a desperate attempt to shift blame away from the administration.

“The American people deserve real solutions,” American Petroleum (API) President Mike Sommers said in a statement, criticizing Biden for releasing oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), rather than addressing the fundamental forces causing gas prices to skyrocket:

“There are many factors behind rising energy costs, from geopolitical volatility and supply chain constraints to policy uncertainty, and the American people deserve real solutions.


In a statement to, Western Energy Alliance (WEA) President Kathleen Sgamma said that Biden’s speech is evidence that the administration is panicking because Americans realize the president’s policies are to blame for skyrocketing gas prices:

Bannister did not quote Sgamma identify any specific Biden policy that was directly linked to a specific increase in gas prices.

Oil profits handwaved

When exorbitant oil industry profits have been brought up, CNS went into defense mode over that too. Susan Jones grumbled in a June 6 article:

President Joe Biden and his administration continue to blame Russia's war on Ukraine for spiking gasoline prices. But some administration officials also blame oil industry profiteering.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told ABC's "This Week" that "the price of gasoline is not set by a dial in the Oval Office."

"And when an oil company is deciding, hour by hour, how much to charge you for a gallon of gas, they're not calling the administration to ask what they should do; they're doing it based on their goal of maximizing their profits.

"It's been very striking right now to see these oil companies, who have become almost ridiculously profitable, and you hear these oil executives on the record talking about how they're not going to increase production. Why would they? They're doing great right now.

Like Bannister, Jones failed to mention the Dallas Federal Reserve survey revealing that investors want gas prices high so they can make money. Still, Jones complained every time oil industry profits are brought up. In a June 10 article blandly headlined "Biden: ‘Every Once in a While Something You Learn Makes You Viscerally Angry’ " -- that thing was the exorbitant rates foreign shipping companies charge -- Jones later noted:

At the end of his speech, a reporter asked the president if he planned to go after Exxon’s profits.

“We are going to make sure that everybody knows Exxon's profits. Why don’t you tell them what the profits were this quarter? Exxon made more money than God this year. And by the way, nothing has changed. And by the way, one thing I want to say about the oil companies. You talk about how they have 9,000 permits to drill. They are not drilling,” Biden said.

“Why aren't they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil, the price goes up, number one. And number two, the reason they’re not drilling is they are buying back their own stock, which should be taxed, quite frankly, buying back their own stock and making no new investments, so I always thought Republicans were for investment. Exxon, start investing, start paying your taxes,” he said.

Again, Jones didn't dispute it. Jones expanded that into a larger complaint in a June 15 article:

President Joe Biden reportedly has sent a letter to various U.S. oil and gas executives, "talking about record high profit margins, saying you need to raise your output, raise your refining capacity as well," CNBC's Brian Sullivan reported early Wednesday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Reading from the letter he'd just obtained, Sullivan said, quoting the president: "You and your companies have an opportunity to take immediate action to increase supply of gas, diesel, other refined products."

This time, though, she did give a platform to the industry to respond, stating that "Forbes magazine reporter David Blackmon asked ExxonMobil for a response to Biden's criticism and received this reply," which was largely a non-answer answer justifying the record profits because of losses early in the pandemic:

"We reported losses of more than $20 billion in 2020, and we borrowed more than $30 billion in 2019 and 2020 to support our investments in production around the world. In 2021, total taxes on the company’s income statement were $40.6 billion, an increase of $17.8 billion from 2020."

Actually,that pandemic-driven loss was driven mostly by writing down the value of $19 billion in assets, not by an actual loss of that amount of money.

Jones served up a similar complaint in a June 23 article:

President Joe Biden "wants to do everything" he can to lower gasoline prices because "he understands the importance of it," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

But doing "everything" does not include attending today's meeting with oil company executives, whom Biden continually vilifies as profiteers.

This time, Jones didn't dispute the characterization.

Defending the honor of yachts

In case you were wondering who's core audience really is, Jones answered it in a June 21 article in which she defended the honor of yachts and the super-rich people who buy them as job creators:

President Joe Biden made another pitch to raise taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans on Monday, telling reporters gathered on a Delaware beach: "If you're going out and buying a yacht, it doesn't help the economy a whole lot."

People who buy yachts, of course, keep yacht-sellers and yacht builders in business. And the yacht owners need to hire crews to run their ships, so job-creation is also part of the yacht-buying experience.

But, if yacht-buying doesn't help the economy, Biden does believe that lowering the price of insulin -- and buying expensive electric cars -- will help.

Talking down electric cars, however, harms a different CNS constituency: Tesla chief Elon Musk, whom it has cheered for his efforts to buy Twitter and touted his opinions on various and sundry subjects.

But Jones wasn't done. When Biden pointed out that oil companies are sitting on 9.000 leases to drill on public lands and that they've "they’ve cut back on refining," Jones went into oil industry PR mode and copy-and-pasted talking points from the American Petroleum Institute offering "seven realities" that supposedly explain "what is happening in global energy markets and (provided) concrete and practicable solutions for addressing today’s high-price environment" -- none of which address the fact that oil companies are sitting on 9.000 leases to drill on public lands.

Jones uncritically repeated the API's narrative on refining -- which blamed "conversions to renewable fuel production" for decreases in refining capacity but then insisted that "ExxonMobil is expanding the capacity at its Beaumont, TX refinery and Valero at its Port Arthur, TX refinery for a combined total of 300,000 barrels per day" -- while ignoring the fact that U.S. refining capacity dropped more than 900,000 barrels per day just in the past two years, while worldwide refining capacity has dropped by 3.3 million barrels a day since 2020.

Jones did not give Biden or the White House an opportunity to respond to API's talking points. Then again, CNS loves shilling for the oil industry.

Jones ran to the oil industry's defense again in a June 22 article:

President Joe Biden is no fan of oil companies, and his sarcasm was on full display Tuesday, when a reporter asked the president about a letter the Chevron CEO wrote to Biden.

Michael Wirth, the Chevron's chairman of the Board and CEO, noted that "your Administration has largely sought to criticize, and at times vilify, our industry. These actions are not beneficial to meeting the challenges we face and are not what the American people deserve."

Asked for his reaction, Biden sneered: "He's mildly sensitive. I didn't know they'd get their feelings hurt that quickly.

When Biden again referenced the 9,000 leases on public lands the oil companies are sitting on, Jones again resorted to copy-and-paste PR From API:

Biden's stock response regarding the "9,000 leases" is misleading because it suggests that oil companies can just put a straw in the ground and suck up the oil waiting below.

First, not all leases are productive. And second, establishing a working oil well takes considerable time and bureaucratic effort.

According to the American Petroleum Institute:

"The (Biden) administration discouraged production of natural gas and oil starting with its first moments in power. On Day One, the President signed an executive order to impose a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); withdrew offshore areas in Arctic waters and the Bering Sea from oil and gas drilling; and revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

"Days later, the administration acted to indefinitely pause all new oil and gas lease sales on federal lands and offshore waters, immediately restricting the industry’s opportunities to explore and invest in new areas.

"Even where the administration hasn’t blocked federal leases, it has been an unwilling partner, openly admitting the sales are not aligned with their policies."

Further, API notes that wells and leases -- those 9,000 leases -- "are not like faucets and spigots. It takes months for new wells to start producing and it can take more than five years for some fields to go from discovery to production, thanks in part to regulatory and legal hurdles along the way.”

Nowhere in that copy-and-paste PR did the API reveal what, exactly, they are doing will all of those 9,000 oil leases besides sitting on them. Hopefully the API is sending a little money Jones' way for being such a loyal stenographer (well, copy-and-paster).

Hyping Mexico's oil industry

CNS took another oil-related shot at President Biden in a July 13 article by Craig Bannister:

The president of Mexico says that so many Americans are crossing the border into his country to save money on gas, that he’s doubling the fuel supply at gas stations near the border - and putting “over 1,000 kilometers of gas pipelines” at President Joe Biden’s disposal.

In a White House meeting with Biden on Tuesday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador explained how he’s helping out while the American people are waiting for the Biden Administration to do something about high gas prices:

“In the meantime, while we’re waiting for prices to go down, we have decided that it was necessary for us to allow Americans who live close to the borderline so that they could go and get their gasoline on the Mexican side at lower prices.”

“And right now, a lot of the drivers — a lot of the Americans — are going to Mexico, to the Mexican border, to get their gasoline,” López Obrador said, noting that the price of a gallon of gas is more than a dollar and a half less expensive in Mexico:

“Right now, a gallon of regular costs $4.78 average on this side of the border. And in our territory, $3.12.”

But Bannister not only ignored allegations of profiteering in the U.S.oil industry, he didn't mention the main reason why López Obrador would have the ability to boost his country's gas supply and why Mexico's gas prices are cheaper than the U.S.: Mexico's oil industry is nationalized and operated by the Mexican government, so it has more control over gas prices than the private company-driven U.S.

This was followed by a July 15 article by intern Janey Olohan serving up Fox News stenography:

“The government of Mexico, in the middle of a drug war, is taking better care of its citizens than Joe Biden is taking care of his citizens. And that is shameful,” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson stated Wednesday on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” discussing the steadily increasing price of gas across the United States.

While the price at the pump at U.S. gas stations remains near its record-high set last month, the average cost of a gallon of gas in Mexico is significantly cheaper – so much so that Americans are now filling up their tanks across the border.


Carlson questioned the narrative being pushed by the Biden Administration and liberal media that Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for the increase in U.S. gas prices:

“So you have to ask yourself: if we’re paying more for gas because of Putin’s price hike, why isn’t Mexico paying more for gas because of Putin, too? Why is inflation up, when wages are down? This doesn't make any sense.”

U.S. government policies are the reason gas costs more in the U.S. than it does in Mexico, Carlson said:

Olohan touted Carlson noting that "spent $2 billion in subsidies to keep gas prices lower for consumers," but she failed to note that Mexico's oil industry is state-controlled, which give it much more flexibility to do such things than Biden can -- or the profiteering allegations against U.S. oil companies.

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