Back in August of 2018, investigative journalist Andrew Kerr reported that “Elizabeth Warren Earned Royalties From Natural Gas Producer With Long Rap Sheet Of Environmental Violations, Tax Returns Reveal.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren received royalty payments in 2017 from one of the largest natural gas producers in the nation, according to tax return documents her campaign released Wednesday.But that’s not the whole story of Warren’s ties to and profiting from oil and gas companies.
Warren received $121 in royalty payments in 2017 from Chesapeake Operating, LLC, a subsidiary company of Chesapeake Energy, according to her tax return. Chesapeake is the second-largest natural gas producer in the nation behind Exxon Mobil and is the most active driller of new gas wells in the country.
Chesapeake has been hit with over $17 million in fines relating to environmental and leasing violations since 2007, the largest being a $3.2 million fine levied in 2013 after one of its subsidiary companies dumped unauthorized materials into dozens of streams and wetlands in West Virginia.
The natural gas royalties Warren collected in 2017 is negligible in comparison to her estimated net worth of between $3.7 and $10 million, however, the existence of the Democrat’s financial ties with Chesapeake is curious considering her aggressive stance against the energy industry.
It appears that as her political profile rose, she sold and/or transferred her interest in various oil and gas interests to her children.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
On her first day as President, Elizabeth Warren says she will “ban fracking—everywhere,” while putting a “total moratorium” on leases offshore and on federal lands. Ms. Warren has signed a pledge to refuse campaign contributions over $200 from the oil-and-gas industry. She’s a past sponsor of a Senate bill called the Keep It in the Ground Act.
So it’s worth noting that, for years, she and her husband reported modest income from natural-gas royalties in her native state of Oklahoma. Ms. Warren’s financial disclosure filed with the Senate in 2012 included $504 of income from “gas well royalty interests” in Latimer County. The next year it was $203. Drill a little deeper and the facts get even more interesting.
. . . . Property records offer further information, although the picture is hardly complete. A 2011 deed says Mr. Mann had sold his interest in “all of the oil, gas, and other minerals” under assorted pieces of land in Latimer County and Pittsburg County. The stated price was $5,000. The buyer? Alexander Warren, the Senator’s son. The deed is dated Aug. 19. It says the transfer of royalty was effective Sept. 1. Two weeks later, Sept. 14, Ms. Warren announced her Senate candidacy in Massachusetts.
There are more transfers in 2014, as Ms. Warren’s political profile was rising. “We are on the cusp of a climate crisis,” she told the Senate that March, “a point of no return that will threaten our health, our economy and our planet.” Two months later, deeds dated May 19 say Ms. Warren conveyed to her two children, Alexander and Amelia, her mineral rights for lands in Okfuskee County and Hughes County, amid the Woodford shale field in the state’s southeast.
One of those Hughes County parcels appears on oil-and-gas leases from June and July 2017, signed by Alexander and Amelia, along with Ms. Warren’s three brothers. The agreements allow exploration and drilling on an 80-acre plot in exchange for royalties on any potential output. The leases had an initial term of three years, so they would appear to remain in effect through this summer.
“Elizabeth and Bruce sold or transferred these mineral interests to her children several years ago,” a Warren campaign spokesman said. “Her children still own them. They generated a few hundred dollars a year.” How long did Ms. Warren and Mr. Mann receive these royalties? Were the amounts larger in the past? The campaign declined to say. For context, gas wells become less productive over time.
The Wall Street Journal notes that “there’s nothing wrong here: Many people hold mineral rights, and ownership can get fractured by inheritance. Fossil fuels make the world go round, powering everything from cars to MRI machines.”What, were there no seats left available on the Burisma board?
What makes this curious is that it belies the purism of her presidential rhetoric. She speaks as if oil inevitably stains everything it touches. “We want to make real progress on climate?” Ms. Warren said at a November debate. “Then we have to start by attacking the corruption that gives the oil industry and other fossil-fuel industries a stranglehold over this country.” A month later she added: “The biggest climate problem we face is the politicians in Washington who keep saying the right thing but continue to take money from the oil industry.”Warren rails against oil and gas companies profiting from “pollution,” but it would appear she has no problem at all doing the same thing, even if it’s on a much smaller scale. Maybe a reporter should ask her at what financial point profiting from pollution becomes unacceptable? And in what way she thinks it acceptable for her to try to transfer “pollution” profits to her children just as she’s making a national name for herself as a green justice warrior?
But back when she was a Harvard law professor, Ms. Warren and her husband cashed those gas checks—or at least they did until the month before she launched her Senate campaign. Once she entered public life, they apparently unloaded the inconvenient assets by transferring them to children, who then endorsed an oil-and-gas lease that would be politically toxic if it carried Ms. Warren’s signature.