A picture of a sign posted recently inside a CONSOL Energy workplace.
In a bid to assert their influence on issues relating to climate change as well as environmental and labor regulations, fossil fuel companies are making an unprecedented election-season push. Documents obtained by The Nation reveal that oil, gas and coal companies are taking advantage of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision to not only blanket swing states with ads but also push their employees and contractors into voting GOP.
CONSOL Energy, a fracking and coal company active in Appalachia in key states like Pennslyvania and Ohio, announced this week that they will soon be laying off workers because of President Obama’s policies. As the company released the impending job cuts, CONSOL’s CEO, Brett Harvey, went on Fox Business Network to praise Romney, claiming that he “understands coal” and will move forward to create “red, white and blue jobs.”
Harvey’s company, like many in the fossil fuel industry, is also pressing its case directly to workers. Workers at CONSOL at its corporate headquarters in Washington, Pennsylvania are greeted with signs imploring them: “I pledge to vote for American Energy Coal & Natural Gas.”
CONSOL Energy has also mailed voter guides to its 8,800 employees located primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio that endorse Mitt Romney for president. The guides, obtained exclusively by The Nation, state that “Obama’s environmental policy is frequently described as a ‘War on Coal’ ” and goes on to state how Obama’s environmental policies effectively bar the construction of new coal power plants. The CONSOL Energy Voting Guide also states that Mitt Romney “will implemented measured reforms of environmental statutes and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs, paralyzing industry, or barring the use of resources like coal.”
In a letter we obtained from Petroleum Helicopters Inc. CEO Al A. Gonsoulin to his 2,000 employees blasting Obama policies, Gonsoulin writes, “No credible or reasonable argument can be made to justify or defend the current administration’s negative attitude and undeniably abusive policies directed toward and against the oil and gas industry that we at PHI depend upon for our corporate or personal livelihoods.”
The Nation has also obtained a letter blasting the Obama administration sent recently to natural gas lease-holders in North Dakota. In the letter, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm urged recipients to elect Republican Rick Berg to the US Senate. Hamm, a billionaire who is credited with helping author Romney's energy plan, writes that Berg “has consistently fought for lower taxes for us” and warned that “your opportunity to receive royalty and bonus payments may also be impacted” by the election. The Citizens United decision liberated corporations to not only endorse candidates to their workers but also express similar election communications to their vendors and customers.