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Green energy Democrat pushing 'Big Oil' tax has disclosed major oil stock trades, records show

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 3/31/2023 Gabe Kaminsky

A Democratic congressman trying to tax "Big Oil" has disclosed up to $1 million worth in major oil and gas stock trades through the years, records show.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who has taken aim at the fracking industry through his role on the Safe Climate Caucus, sponsored the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act in February, a bill that would impose large taxes on oil giants such as ExxonMobil and Chevron. At the same time, Khanna's wife has traded between $378,000 and $1.3 million in shares of top oil and gas companies that could be affected by his tax proposal, according to disclosures reviewed by the Washington Examiner.


"It shows that they're not averse to making money off the oil industry and its profits," Dan Kish, senior policy vice president for the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit group, told the Washington Examiner. "If someone wanted to be pure on these things, they would steer clear and have their spouse steer clear of investments in something that they're focused on — and he's focused on climate change."

If passed, Khanna's bill would place a crude oil excise tax on companies that imported or extracted over 300,000 barrels per day in 2019, "or who extracted and imported that amount in the current calendar quarter." The top publicly traded oil and gas companies in the United States — ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies — pocketed over $264 billion in pre-tax profits in fiscal 2022, records show.

Rep. Ro Khanna. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © Provided by Washington Examiner Rep. Ro Khanna. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate Democrats, led by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, put forth a similar bill in February, which would make large oil companies pay a pre-barrel quarterly tax equal to 50% "of the difference between the current price of a barrel of oil and the pre-pandemic average price per barrel between 2015 and 2019," a press release shows. One co-sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), recently fundraised with the help of a campaign donor who has consulted for companies heavily reliant on fossil fuels, the Washington Examiner reported in early March.

Khanna has frequently disclosed stock trades across various sectors, including on 99 occasions in 15 oil and gas entities between April 2020 and February 2023. These include Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, Valero, Pioneer Natural Resources, EOG Resources, Halliburton, Sunoco, Targa Resources, and Occidental Petroleum.

All of these entities have disclosed producing over hundreds of thousands of barrels per day, including Chevron, which averaged 3 million net oil-equivalent barrels per day throughout 2022, according to its annual report. Exxon sells over 5.4 million barrels per day of petroleum products, according to the company's website. Similarly, BP pumped out 1.1 million barrels per day in 2022, a February study shows.

Between June 2020 and September 2021, Khanna disclosed that his wife bought up to $125,000 worth of Exxon shares and sold up to $160,000 worth. His wife also bought up to $95,000 worth of Chevron shares and sold up to $275,000 worth between April 2020 and August 2021, disclosures show.

In 2021, Khanna and Democrats on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee subpoenaed executives at Chevron, Exxon, BP, and Shell in connection to them bankrolling purported "climate disinformation." Exxon fired back, claiming the committee "has sought to misrepresent" its "position on climate science," Politico reported.

"How is there a 'war on energy' when Exxon, Chevron, & BP are making over 200% higher profits this year?" Khanna tweeted in September 2022. "Even worse, Big Oil is making money off of Americans & paying windfall profits taxes to Europe. Let's pass my Big Oil windfall profits tax bill with @SenWhitehouse."

Marie Baldassarre, a spokeswoman for Khanna, told the Washington Examiner the congressman "does not own any individual stocks" and that his wife, Ritu Khanna, maintained assets before their marriage.

Those assets are "in a diversified trust managed by an outside financial adviser," said Baldassarre, noting that Khanna in 2022 co-sponsored the TRUST in Congress Act, which would require lawmakers and their families to place investments in a "qualified blind trust" controlled by a third party until 180 days after they leave office.

Still, Kish noted that Khanna's trades are the sort of thing "that ought to raise people's eyebrows." The congressman has notably called global warming an "existential threat that requires a proactive approach from both parties."

"If you think that oil companies are making too much, then you probably ought to stop your wife from making too much from oil companies," he said.

Ritu Khanna also bought up to $100,000 in BP and Shell in February, following her offloading up to $15,000 worth in October 2020, records show. Following its 2021 subpoena, the Democratic-led Oversight Committee released documents highlighting the operations of both companies. Rep. Khanna specifically takes aim at BP on his campaign website, slamming the company for "environmental harm" caused by its 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Rep. Rohit 'Ro' Khanna, from California's 17th Congressional District centered in Santa Clara and other parts of California's Silicon Valley, is interviewed in Los Angeles Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) © Provided by Washington Examiner U.S. Rep. Rohit 'Ro' Khanna, from California's 17th Congressional District centered in Santa Clara and other parts of California's Silicon Valley, is interviewed in Los Angeles Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)


The Safe Climate Caucus, which the congressman joined in February 2019, has supported the Clean Power Plan. The plan aimed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June 2022. Critics alleged it would stifle job creation and overextend the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Khanna revealed that he will not run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) seat on Sunday, throwing his hat behind Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a member of the Safe Climate Caucus who announced a Senate bid in late February. Lee co-sponsored a 2020 bill introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that would ban federal agencies from issuing permits to expand fracking.


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Tags: Ro Khanna, Congress, Fossil Fuels, News, stock market

Original Author: Gabe Kaminsky

Original Location: Green energy Democrat pushing 'Big Oil' tax has disclosed major oil stock trades, records show


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