Why It's Impossible to Equate Big Oil To Big Tobacco
Last week, I wrote about the effort by a far-left radical member of parliament up in Canada to make it a criminal act to say nice things about oil, natural gas, or coal. The MP in question, a member of the NDP named Charlie Angus, repeatedly said his goal is to treat fossil fuel companies like western governments dealt with the Big Tobacco companies back in the 1990s.
Though this may seem like a new, novel approach by this self-aggrandizing bully boy, I know from hard personal experience it is nothing new at all. Those of us active in industry-wide projects and organizations knew way back in the early 1990s that those on the far left and in the Clinton administration were actively looking for legal arguments to equate Big Tobacco, whose products had no socially redeeming value of any kind, to Big Oil, whose products had made life-extending and enhancing modern living possible.
It was like dreaming the impossible dream for these zealots, but being zealots, they persisted in dreaming it nonetheless.
Thus, it was that, in July 1996, I received a call from my boss’s executive assistant at Burlington Resources, where I worked from 1987 thru the company’s buyout by ConocoPhillips in 2006, letting me know that the mailman was waiting at the reception desk with a certified package addressed to me. No big deal: That had happened before, so I went to go sign for it, whatever it was.
So, I signed for the package and headed back to my office. Lo and behold, when I opened the thing up, I found a formal subpoena from the US Attorney’s office in Casper, Wyoming demanding the production of all documents related to the valuation of royalty payments to the federal government for the company’s oil and gas production located in the state of Wyoming for the previous 7 years.