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Environmentalists to Debate Mods: Ask Trump About $1 Billion “Deal” to Oil CEOs

Trump urged oil and gas CEOs to give him $1 billion in campaign cash in exchange for him loosening regulations.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on June 5, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Several environmental groups are calling on the moderators of the first presidential debate this year between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to ask both candidates to answer for their records on the environment — and in the latter’s case, to discuss a possible quid pro quo he made with fossil fuel companies.

The first debate is scheduled to air on CNN at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on June 27. It will be hosted by CNN personalities Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

In an open letter addressed to Tapper and Bash, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Climate Power and a number of other groups stated that voters “deserve to hear exactly what Trump promised Big Oil CEOs,” a reference to a meeting Trump held with those executives in April.

During that meeting, Trump responded to complaints about oil and gas regulations under the Biden administration by encouraging the executives to open up their wallets and support his campaign. In exchange for a collective $1 billion donation from the execs, Trump would rescind those regulations, a person familiar with the meeting said the GOP nominee had promised them.

According to the source, who shared details of the meeting with The Washington Post, Trump promised, among other things, to:

  • End the current freeze on permits for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports;
  • Auction off more offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Reverse recently imposed restrictions on drilling in the Alaskan Arctic
  • And end a supposed “mandate” on electric vehicle production, a misrepresentation of an Environmental Protection Agency rule that encourages such a shift but doesn’t require it.

Trump also framed the exchange as a “deal” for the fossil fuel executives, promising them that the amount in taxes and fees they would save if he’s elected again would be well under the $1 billion they could lend him.

The request from climate groups to the CNN moderators not only encouraged them to delve into this meeting, but to hold Biden accountable, too, for his environmental record. While he has implemented a number of new regulations designed to curtail pollution, and signed into law the largest expenditures ever to curtail the climate crisis, not all of the administration’s actions have been positive for the environment, including the fact that oil production has reached an all-time high under his watch, and that Biden has approved nearly twice the amount of oil and gas permits for wells on federal land that Trump did while in office.

“When all eyes are on the party nominees on June 27, we hope you will take the opportunity to help voters learn more about President Trump’s promise to top oil executives and dig into both candidates’ records on climate,” the organizations said to the moderators. “As climate change makes extreme weather disasters more frequent, destructive, and expensive, we are counting on you to ensure the voters know where President Biden and former President Trump stand.”

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