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Big Oil Spends Millions on Advertising Campaign to Rehab Image, Leaving 68 Million Acres of Leased Federal Land Undeveloped

President Bush, Sen. John McCain and their Republican allies continue to push failed “drill and veto” energy policies of the past even as Big Oil chooses to spend money on rehabbing its image instead of taking steps to help the American consumer.  According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, Big Oil is spending millions on advertising to deflect consumer anger over high gas prices, rather than investing in clean renewable energy or developing and drilling in the 68 million federal acres onshore and offshore they already lease.

“Facing the toughest political climate in a generation, the oil industry is using a barrage of advertisements to deflect anger over $4 a gallon gasoline prices…

“As gasoline prices have risen, so has industry spending on its image. The companies and their industry associations spent $52.5 million on advertisements in the first quarter, up 18% from the same period a year earlier, according to tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence. This spending is expected to jump in the second quarter on the back of Exxon's campaign, which has included print advertisements in the New York Times and a weeklong series of two-page ads in The Wall Street Journal.”

In these ads, companies are touting their commitment to alternative energy, even though Exxon Mobil - the most profitable American company - spent a mere $10 million of its $40 billion in profits on renewable energy alternatives in 2007. [Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, 5/21/08]


  • The fact is there are 68 million acres onshore and offshore in the U.S. that are leased by oil companies--open to drilling and actually under lease--but not developed.
  • If oil companies tapped the 68 million federal acres of leased land it would generate an estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil a day - six times what ANWR would produce at its peak.
  • The fact is 80 percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open for leasing--but the oil companies haven't decided it's worth their money to drill there.
  • The fact is that drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge wouldn't yield any oil for 10 years--and then would only save the consumer 1.8 cents per gallon in 2030.
  • All told, the U.S. has only 1.6 percent of world's known oil supply.  But every day, Americans use a quarter of the world's daily oil consumption.

The New Direction Congress is committed to bringing real relief to those feeling the pinch from high gas and diesel prices and ensuring the needs of families and businesses are put before the interests of Big Oil companies. We will continue to work to develop other innovative legislation that addresses high energy costs and our shift to a more energy efficient economy. The American people deserve a cleaner, greener, more energy efficient future.