May 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Oil lobby jumps into Arctic drilling finance battle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The powerful American Petroleum Institute and GOP senators are attacking big banks’ financial restrictions on Arctic oil drilling — and mulling ways to go beyond just verbal pushback.

What they’re saying: “We don’t think it’s appropriate for banks to discriminate against fossil-fuel communities,” API president Mike Sommers tells Axios.

  • “We’re working with the administration and others to ensure that does not occur," he said.

Why it matters: The growing number of banks vowing not to stake Arctic projects is another hurdle in front of White House plans to enable drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

  • More broadly, Arctic development is already facing strong headwinds due to low prices, low demand, and industry opportunities in less controversial regions.

Where it stands: The administration may try to use coronavirus relief policies as leverage to compel major U.S. banks to drop recent restrictions they’ve placed on Arctic oil and gas financing, per Sommers and President Trump himself.

  • “A number of these banks are seeking to participate in the programs that are part of the COVID response,” Sommers said. “And you’d think the administration would have significant leverage over these banks during this crisis.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports that GOP lawmakers plan to launch a "pressure campaign" against the banks.

  • It's not clear what realistic options they have in a divided Congress, but Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan offers this threat via Politico: "You think this is a cost-free action? Let's see about that."

Catch up quick: In just the last few months, five out of six of America’s biggest banks have announced new restrictions, Bloomberg reports.

  • The moves — the latest coming from Morgan Stanley in late April — are part of the banks’ broader pledges to support action on climate change and clean energy. 

Go deeper

The policies that could help fix policing

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

George Floyd's death has reignited the long and frustrating push to reform a law enforcement system whose systemic flaws have been visible for years.

Why it matters: Solving these problems will require deep political, structural and cultural changes, experts and advocates say — but they also point to a handful of specific policy changes that, while not a cure, would make a difference.

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

10 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.