Powerful Republican lobbying group comes to Vancouver to strategize with oil industry
At a meeting last week of the Canadian Oil and Gas Export Summit in Vancouver, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a representative to huddle with industry. Here's a look at how the Republican Party is extending its influence into Canada.
This is the first of a special three-part series on what was said and heard at the Summit.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful Republican lobbying group, was in Vancouver last week at the Canadian Oil and Gas Export Summit. Their appearance comes amidst the Harper government's attacks on environmental charities in Canada, accusing them of influence from foreign billionaire "radicals" from the US.
Christopher Guith, vice president of policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, addressed the small group of oil industry representatives at the oil and gas summit at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver.
Matt Koch, vice president for Oil Sands and Arctic Issues, was originally slated to speak at the event. Koch, who worked in the George W. Bush administration and at the American Petroleum Institute, had to cancel on short notice.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, described by The Economist as “the most muscular business lobby group in Washington”, is one of the largest Republican lobbying groups. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck recently held a telethon on its behalf, touting the Chamber as his ideological ally. Through its state chapter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently poured $4.7 million into Wisconsin to support Republican governor Scott Walker, who recently emerged victorious from his recall race.
Also present was EPRINC president Lucian Pugliaresi, a former energy lobbyist whose company, LPI Consulting, was registered as a foreign agent due to consulting work the firm has done for countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
A "paradigm shift" for more oil supply, not less
Tall, blond and well-spoken, Guith told participants in the gleaming beige and gold conference room on the hotel's second floor that the world was going to need more oil in the future, not less.
“We're in the middle of an absolute paradigm shift. Conventional wisdom is on its head right now and very few people understand this, least of all in Washington, D.C.," Guith said, echoing the views of various Republican lobbying groups.
In Guith's view, a few points are critical for anyone in the oil and gas industry to understand in-depth:
- According to a report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) – said by many speakers at the summit to be "too conservative" with its estimates – global energy demand will rise 53 per cent between 2008 and 2035. Guith said 90 per cent of that demand will come from develping nations, including places where millions are currently without household electricity.
- Renewable energy will not fill the gap, he said, as it needs heavy government subsidies to survive. Even though wind installations in the U.S. are up 31 per cent in 2011, Guith said that the federal wind tax credit is set to expire on December 31, and claimed this meant an uncertain future for the industry.
- Given the slumping economy and rising oil prices, Guith said, U.S. public opinion is shifting more and more in favour of offshore drilling and oil exploration.
In his view, North America is uniquely positioned to make substantial profits through offshore drilling and oil exploration. His line of thought: as developing countries rapidly industrialize, so does their demand for energy. Enter Canada, with its political stability and rich oil and gas resources.