The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) is far from a household name, but a new investigation published by InsideClimate News' Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Lisa Song may have just put what is likely the most powerful oil and gas lobbying node you've never heard of on the map.
Titled, Is the IOGCC, Created by Congress in 1935, Now a Secret Oil and Gas Lobby?, the article's origins lay in the hundreds of documents obtained from open records requests and historical archives by me and Jesse Coleman, a researcher at Greenpeace USA, that are part of an ongoing investigation into IOGCC.
Song's article for the award-winning InsideClimate News reveals documents that show for the first time that it was IOGCC at the front and center and not just Halliburton, which created what many now know as the Halliburton Loophole.
That regulatory loophole exempts the oil and gas industry from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act as applied to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and is seen as what opened the Pandora's Box for industrial high volume slickwater horizontal drilling in the U.S.
But before getting too far into the weeds of IOGCC's deeds, what exactly is it?
Simply put, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission is a quasi-governmental organization founded and headquartered in Oklahoma City and located on property adjacent to the Governor's Mansion and on Oklahoma state property given to the organization via a land deed.
IOGCC exists due to a 1935 act of Congress that allowed the oil-producing states to compact together, under authority of the U.S. Constitution, in an effort to conserve oil and limit what were then wasteful production practices.
All of the oil and gas producing states of the U.S. are dues-paying members, with dues paid based on production stats: the more you produce, the more money that goes into the pot. IOGCC's official members, gubernatorial appointees of each respective member state, are generally the top oil and gas regulators of each state. Caveat: sometimes Governors pick lobbyists or industry attorneys instead.
IOGCC does not file U.S. Internal Revenue Service 990 reports and does not post its budget online, so its budget details remain murky. Technically, IOGCC is not industry-funded (if you don't count the fact it's entirely funded by drilling productivity), but it's twice-annual conferences are also industry-funded and that's where a lot of the real action happens, including passage of IOGCC model resolutions.
And that action, from 1999 through 2005 as told in Song's story, included pushing for what it called a “simple fix” in a September 2005 newsletter of something it saw as broken: the pesky Safe Drinking Water Act getting in the way of fracking in the U.S.
IOGCC's anti-Safe Drinking Water Act activity continued into 2009, when it beat back against the advocacy group and congressional push to close the loophole through the FRAC Act of 2009. That year, IOGCC proudly demonstrated in its own legislative tracking document, that its model resolution to maintain the regulatory exemption status quo passed in nine states.
InsideClimate News created a graphic that shows that, like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), these bills were passed as law in a nearly copy-paste manner in those statehouses. In fact, ALEC liked the resolution so much that it adopted it as one of its own.
Is IOGCC Lobbying?
While the InsideClimate News article mostly centers around IOGCC's anti-Safe Drinking Water Act advocacy, numerous other examples exist—several of them touched upon within InsideClimate's piece—of IOGCC working to derail federal regulatory safeguards on the most pressing oil and gas-related issues of the day.
The stories of those efforts, the names of the people who made it happen and the victims of those efforts will receive space here soon on DeSmog.
It is fairly safe to say—based on the thousands of historical documents, court documents, documents obtained from interlibrary loan and documents obtained and reviewed from public records requests—that IOGCC has sat at the epicenter of the oil and gas industry's battle against the myriad U.S. environmental laws passed in the 1970s.
The facts raise a simple question: Is it lobbying? IOGCC told InsideClimate News it doesn't think so.
“IOGCC does not lobby,” IOGCC Spokeswoman Carol Booth told InsideClimate. “It does inform and educate state regulators, federal officials, policymakers and the public at large.”
IOGCC's former Washington, DC Representative (read: lobbyist) Kevin Bliss, a former industry attorney who worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Energy before landing the gig at IOGCC, claimed to Song that by definition IOGCC cannot lobby. Bliss, in the 2005 IOGCC newsletter published by InsideClimate News first discovered by DeSmog, gets credit along with a few others for working on the IOGCC subcommittee that inserted the Safe Drinking Water Act loophole into the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
“States don't lobby,” Bliss told Song. “We were just communicating, state government to federal government.”
And what about all of the IOGCC industry members and representatives, Song asked Bliss, are those the “states” too?
“As far as I was ever concerned, the only people I ever paid attention to were the state oil and gas regulators,” Bliss answered. “Those were the ones that carried the punch.”
Yet IOGCC's own newsletter boasts that Bliss pushed alongside fellow subcommittee member and industry attorney and Executive Michael Linn, founder of Linn Energy, to get the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption placed into the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
DOJ Weighs In
The U.S. Department of Justice didn't agree with IOGCC's assessment of its activities, according to historical documents cited in the InsideClimate piece and originally tracked down by DeSmog. Those documents center around a 1978 congressional testimony given by then-DOJ Antitrust Attorney Donald Flexner, now the namesake partner of the powerful law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
In short, Flexner stated that IOGCC was no longer living up to the spirit of the original mission of its compact—conserving oil and gas—and should not receive congressional blessing to exist as a lobbyist organization.
As history would prove, Congress itself did not care quite as much about this notion and the DOJ has done nothing by way of actual enforcement or legal accountability to date as it relates to IOGCC. DeSmog has dozens more documents pertaining to this historical episode, with obvious contemporary relevance and they will be the focus of future articles on DeSmog.
InsideClimate News also got IOGCC on the record to convey its organizational position on climate change, with Spokeswoman Carol Booth claiming IOGCC does not have a stance on the issue.
“We're not scientists,” IOGCC's Carol Booth told Song, with Song pointing out that this talking point has become commonplace among GOP politicians asked about whether they think climate change exists and is caused by humans. “[A]nd we cannot comment on things we don't know.”
DeSmog also got IOGCC on the record on climate change back in October, when IOGCC Executive Director Carl Michael Smith wrote us a letter in response to questions sent through email. As with InsideClimate News, IOGCC claimed not to have a stance on the issue.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
- Beavers Could Help in Adapting to Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Anishinaabe Tribes in the Northern U.S. Are Adapting to Climate ... ›
- Climate Adaptation Is Essential, Scientists Warn - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A Yellowstone National Park trail camera received a surprising visitor last month.
- Road to Nowhere: Highways Pose Existential Threat to Wolverines ... ›
- Court Ends Attempt to Mine for Gold Near Yellowstone - EcoWatch ›
For the first time, researchers have identified 100 transnational corporations that take home the majority of profits from the ocean's economy.
- 3 Innovations Leading the Fight to Save Our Ocean - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Ways to Curb the Power of Corporations and Billionaires - EcoWatch ›
Environmental groups and the foundations that fund them made incremental, if mixed, progress toward diversifying their staff and leadership in 2020 but remain overwhelmingly white, according to a report issued by Green 2.0 Wednesday.
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ... ›
- A Look at Why Environmentalism Is So Homogeneous — and How ... ›
- The Power of Inclusive, Intergenerational Climate Activism - EcoWatch ›
- Decolonizing Environmentalism - EcoWatch ›
By Jill Joyce
Maybe you're trying to eat healthier these days, aiming to get enough of the good stuff and limit the less-good stuff. You're paying attention to things like fiber and fat and vitamins … and anti-nutrients?
What Are Anti-Nutrients?<p><a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Anti-nutrients are substances</a> that naturally occur in plant and animal foods.</p><p>The name comes from how they function in your body once you eat them. They <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/antinutrients" target="_blank">block or interfere with how your body</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B0710640" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">absorbs other nutrients</a> out of your gut and into your bloodstream so you can then use them. Thus, anti-nutrients may decrease the amount of nutrients you actually get from your food. They most commonly interfere with the absorption of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc</a>.</p><p>Plants evolved these <a href="https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070111p54.shtml" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">compounds as a defensive mechanism</a> against insects, parasites, bacteria and fungi. For example, some anti-nutrients can cause a food to taste bitter; animals won't want to eat it, leaving the seed, for instance, to provide nourishment for future seedlings. Some anti-nutrients block the digestion of seeds that are eaten. The seeds disperse when they come out the other end in the animal's fecal matter and can go on to grow new plants. Both of these survival tactics help the plant species grow and spread.</p><p><span></span>In terms of foods that people eat, you'll most commonly find anti-nutrients naturally occurring in whole grains and legumes.</p>
Time for an Image Makeover as Health Enhancers<p>Despite sounding scary, studies show that anti-nutrients are not of concern unless consumed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcs.2014.01.010" target="_blank">ultra, unrealistically high amounts</a> – and they have numerous health benefits.</p><p>Anti-nutrients are currently undergoing a change in image very similar to the one dietary fiber experienced. At one point, scientists thought dietary fiber was bad for people. Since fiber could bind to nutrients and pull them out of the digestive tract in poop, it seemed like something to avoid. To address this perceived issue, grain processing in the late 1800s removed fiber from foods.</p><p>But now scientists know that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x" target="_blank">dietary fiber is incredibly important</a> and encourage its consumption. Eating plenty of fiber lowers the risks of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some gastrointestinal diseases.</p><p>In the same way, rather than something to avoid, many anti-nutrients are now considered health-promoting nutraceuticals and functional foods due to their numerous benefits. Here's an introduction to some of the most frequently eaten anti-nutrients that come with benefits:</p><ul><li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/109662004322984734" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Saponins, common in legumes</a>, can boost the immune system, reduce risk of cancer, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar response to foods, result in fewer cavities, reduce risk of kidney stones and combat blood clotting seen in heart attacks and strokes.</li><li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcs.2014.01.010" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Lectins, found in cereal grains and legumes</a>, are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers and becoming overweight or obese.</li><li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10408699891274273" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tannins, commonly found in teas, coffees and processed meats and cheeses</a>, are antioxidants that can inhibit growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast and may decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure.</li><li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B0710640" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Phytates, found in wheat, barley, rice and corn</a>, are associated with increased immune function and cancer cell death, as well as reduced cancer cell growth and spread. They also have antioxidant properties and can reduce inflammation.</li><li>Finally, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1024/0300-98126.96.36.199" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">glucosinates, found in brassica vegetables</a> like cauliflower, inhibit tumor cell growth.</li></ul><p>Oxalates are one of the few anti-nutrients with mostly negative impacts on the body. They are <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa166321" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">found in lots of common foods</a>, including legumes, beets, berries, cranberries, oranges, chocolate, tofu, wheat bran, soda, coffee, tea, beer, dark green vegetables and sweet potatoes. The negative impacts of oxalates include binding to calcium in the digestive tract and removing it from the body in bowel movements. Oxalates can also <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa166321" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increase the risk of kidney stones</a> in some people.</p>
Fitting Anti-Nutrients Into a Healthy Diet<p>Overall, comparing the benefits to the drawbacks, anti-nutrient pros actually outweigh the cons. The healthy foods that contain them – mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes – should be encouraged not avoided.</p><p>Anti-nutrients become a concern only if these foods are consumed in ultra-high amounts, <a href="https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/project/?accnNo=426312" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">which is very unlikely</a> for most adults and children in the U.S. Additionally, a large proportion of anti-nutrients are removed or lost from foods people eat <a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as they're processed and cooked</a>, especially if soaking, blanching, boiling or other high-heat processes are involved.</p><p>Vegetarians and vegans may be at higher risk of negative effects from anti-nutrients because their diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. But these <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2016.09.025" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plant-based diets are still among the healthiest</a> and are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and numerous types of cancers.</p><p>Vegetarians and vegans can take a few steps to help counteract anti-nutrients' effects on their absorption of particular nutrients:</p><ul><li>Pair high iron <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/130.5.1378S" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">and zinc</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.afnr.2014.11.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">foods with</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/59.5.1233S" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">foods high in vitamin C</a> (examples: meatballs with tomato sauce, tomato-based chili with beans).</li><li><a href="https://www.jblearning.com/catalog/productdetails/9780763779764?jblsearch" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Soak legumes before cooking</a>.</li><li><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/70.3.543s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Time dairy intake</a> such that it is not always paired with high oxalate foods.</li><li>Purchase dairy products that are fortified with calcium.</li><li>Consider a multivitamin-mineral supplement with about 100% of the daily recommended dose of nutrients (check the nutrition facts panel) as nutrition insurance if you are worried, but be sure to talk to your doctor first.<em></em></li></ul><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jill-joyce-1172925" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Jill Joyce</a> is an assistant professor of Public Health Nutrition at Oklahoma State University.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Jill Joyce does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/anti-nutrients-theyre-part-of-a-normal-diet-and-not-as-scary-as-they-sound-149229" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>
- Good Nutrition Can Help Keep COVID-19 and Other Diseases Away ... ›
- Vitamin K: A Little-Known But Noteworthy Nutrient - EcoWatch ›