Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA)

The Independent Petroleum Association of America Represents Thousands Of Oil And Gas Producers

The Independent Petroleum Association Of America’s Website Says It Represents Thousands of Independent Oil And Gas Producers And Services Companies Across the Country. “Today, IPAA represents the thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers and service companies across the United States. America’s independent producers develop 91 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells. These companies account for 83 percent of America’s oil production, 90 percent of its natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) production, and support over 4.5 million American jobs. A recent analysis has shown that independent producers are investing 150 percent of their U.S. cash flow back into American oil and natural gas development to enhance their already aggressive efforts to find and produce more energy.” [IPAA, accessed 10/16/19]

IPAA Says It Advocates Its Members Views Before Congress, The White House And Federal Agencies. “IPAA is a national trade association headquartered in Washington, D.C. It serves as an informed voice for the exploration and production segment of the industry, and advocates its members’ views before the United States Congress, The White House, and federal agencies. IPAA provides economic and statistical information about the U.S. exploration and production industry. IPAA also develops investment symposia and other networking and business development opportunities for its members.” [IPAA, accessed 10/16/19]

The IPAA Has Ties To Several High-Ranking Employees In Donald Trump’s Interior Department

IPPA Tells Oil Executives They Have “Unprecedented” And “Direct Access” To Interior Secretary David Bernhardt

Independent Petroleum Association of America’s (IPAA) Political Director Told Oil Executives They Had “Direct Access” To Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Just five months into the Trump era, the energy developers who make up the Independent Petroleum Association of America had already watched the new president order a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that were cutting into their bottom lines — rules concerning smog, fracking and endangered species protection. […] Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the conference room audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior….’We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,’ Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]

  • Oil Executives “Almost Giddy” at Having “High-Level Executive Branch Access.” “The previous eight years had been dispiriting for the industry: As IPAA vice president Jeff Eshelman told the group, it had seemed as though the Obama administration and environmental groups had put together ‘their target list of everything that they wanted done to shut down the oil and gas industry.’ But now, the oil executives were almost giddy at the prospect of high-level executive branch access of the sort they hadn’t enjoyed since Dick Cheney, a fellow oilman, was vice president.”[Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • IPAA CEO Barry Russell Said “We Have Unprecedented Access.” “‘It’s really a new thing for us,’ said Barry Russell, the association’s CEO, boasting of his meetings with Environmental Protection Agency chief at the time, Scott Pruitt, and the then-Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. ‘For example, next week I’m invited to the White House to talk about tax code. Last week we were talking to Secretary Pruitt, and in about two weeks we have a meeting with Secretary Zinke. So we have unprecedented access to people that are in these positions who are trying to help us, which is great.’” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Russell Discussed Ties to Bernhardt, Said “So That’s Worked Out Well.” ‘In that Ritz-Carlton conference room, Russell also spoke of his ties to Bernhardt, recalling the lawyer’s role as point man on an association legal team set up to challenge federal endangered species rules. ‘Well, the guy that actually headed up that group is now the No. 2 at Interior,” he said, referring to Bernhardt. “So that’s worked out well.’” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • IPAA Had List Of Environmental Regulations It Hoped to Roll Back, Succeeded on “Four or Five High-Profile Issues.” “At the meeting, the association’s leaders distributed a private ‘regulatory update’ memo that detailed environmental laws and rules that it hoped to blunt or overturn. The group ultimately got its way on four of the five high-profile issues that topped its wish list.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Interior Sided with Industry on Fracking Rules After IPAA Sued. “In 2015, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management moved to minimize water pollution caused by fracking, setting standards for well construction and proper management of fracking fluids. For the first time, the new rule also required frackers to get federal permits, a costly and time-consuming process, the industry complained. The IPAA sued, contending the rule was not needed because fracking was already regulated by states. Under Trump, Interior sided with the energy industry, and in 2017 the rule was rescinded.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Interior Withdrew Provisions on Methane Rules After IPAA Sued. “In 2016, to fight global warming, the BLM issued a rule sharply limiting these practices and imposing a royalty fee on operators who wasted natural gas on public land. IPAA sued, complaining producers would face huge financial losses. Trump’s Interior Department sided with the industry and in 2018 rescinded key provisions of the rule.”[Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Trump Personally Ordered Reversal of Obama-era Compensatory Mitigation Practice After IPAA Objected. “To offset the harm of oil production, the BLM often required producers to pay for restoration projects as a condition of their permits. This practice of ‘compensatory mitigation’ is used by many government agencies. In 2015, then-President Obama ordered Interior to set a goal of “no net loss for natural resources” when issuing development permits. IPAA pushed back hard against the ‘no net loss’ standard, arguing that developers might be saddled with exorbitant mitigation costs. In 2017, Trump himself ordered the repeal of the Obama mitigation rule. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke attacked the concept as ‘Un-American.’” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Bernhardt Wrote Legal Opinion Undoing Bird Protections. “Every year, millions of migratory birds are killed when they fly into power lines, oil waste pits and other energy development hazards, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says. Since the 1970s, the service has promoted industrial safety practices to protect birds from accidental harm—and has prosecuted and fined energy companies responsible for the deaths of these birds. IPAA complained it was unfair to prosecute energy companies engaged in legal activities that unintentionally harmed birds. In 2017, Trump’s Interior Department called a halt to prosecuting companies for the ‘incidental’ deaths of birdlife. Bernhardt played an important role in crafting the legal opinion that gutted these protections, emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • Bernhardt’s Recusal Regarding IPAA Expires in August 2019 and His Calendars Do Not Show any Meetings with the Association. “Bernhardt’s recusal concerning the petroleum association expires in August and his official calendars do not reflect any meetings to date with IPAA officials.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • IPAA Has Spent $1.3 Million Lobbying Interior During Bernhardt’s Tenure. “Since Bernhardt began work at the department, the IPAA has spent more than $1.3 million lobbying the department and other federal agencies, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • IPAA Has Also Met with Bernhardt Aide Todd Willens. “In April 2018, an IPAA contingent led by Naatz, the political director, met with Bernhardt’s top aide, Todd Willens, concerning two issues from the wish list: migratory birds and mitigation. Hours later, Willens met with Bernhardt, but a copy of Willens’ calendar doesn’t state the topic of their meeting.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
  • IPAA Political Director Dan Naatz Said “Bernhardt Would Actually Run the Department” And  Called Him “The COO.” “Naatz predicted Bernhardt would actually run the department while Zinke would play a ceremonial role. ‘What secretaries of Interior do is go out to Yellowstone, go out to Tetons … have big vision for what they’re going to do,’ he said. ‘David is going to be the COO. David’s going to move the pieces. David’s going to be part of that, and we know him well.’” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]
    • Naatz Also Warned, “If You Don’t Have the Politicals Pushing Down, Bureaucracy Is Going to Take Over.” “Trump was slow to make middle-level appointments at the regulatory agencies to carry out the pro-industry policies he ordered, Naatz contended. Without supervision, career federal employees might well slow-walk, or resist the sweeping regulatory changes the industry favors, he said…. ‘If you don’t have the politicals pushing down, bureaucracy is going to take over and push up,’ Naatz said.” [Reveal News, 03/23/19]

Bernhardt Knew About At Least One Meeting Between Interior Official Todd Willens And IPAA On Proposed Changes To The Sage Grouse Plan

Bernhardt’s Calendar Showed He Recused Himself from a Sage Grouse Meeting Attended By Members of the IPAA: “Interior Secretary David Bernhardt — who is being investigated for potential conflicts of interest with the oil and gas industry, department officials confirmed Monday — recused himself from a Wyoming sage grouse meeting with a Casper oilman in late 2017 due to the man’s ties to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, according to documents obtained by the Western Values Project.” The meeting was found on Assistant Deputy Secretary Todd Willens’ calendar. [Casper Star Tribune04/17/19]

Bernhardt Worked Directly on Sage Grouse Policy During His Time As Deputy Secretary. “The secretary had a proactive role in sage grouse management during his time as deputy secretary, and had numerous meetings with energy companies and groups, including the IPAA, according to calendar items recently disclosed and reviewed by Roll Call.” [Casper Star Tribune04/17/19]

IPPA Has Requested Information, Meetings, And Other Opportunities For Input Into The Sage Grouse Review Process

  • On June 21, 2017, Samantha McDonald, the Director of Government Relations for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, emailed Interior’s Deputy Director, Office of External Affairs, Timothy Williams, and asked, “Did the members of the Sage Grouse Review Team get named?”  [OS-2017-001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Page 22]
  • In July 2017, IPAA Director of Government Relations Samantha McDonald emailed Interior’s Deputy Director, Office of External Affairs Timothy Williams, requesting “one more call” with Williams in his “sage grouse review capacity,” on behalf of Chesapeake, ConocoPhillips, EOG Resources and Western Energy Alliance. The organizations had “a pretty specific sage grouse issue they’d like to have addressed in the final report,” that had to do with a “sage grouse map issue.” The report issued by the Interior Department in August 2017 “committed to developing a process to incorporate revised habitat maps.”  [OS-2017-001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Pages 89-91]

David Bernhardt has additional correspondence with former client, IPAA, in December 2017 about the coming amendments for sage grouse plans. [E&E, 08/07/17]

IPAA, A Former Client Of Bernhardt, Thanked Him For His Work On Sage Grouse

  • The IPAA is also a “former client” of Bernhardt’s. [David Bernhardt Ethics Recusal, 08/15/17]

In March 2078, IPAA signed onto a “thank you” letter to Bernhardt for his actions “that rescinded and revised mitigation policies that far exceeded statutory authority.” The letter references issues related to Bernhardt’s role in the sage-grouse review. [IPAA letter to David Bernhardt, 03/17/18]

During the 2018/19 Government Shutdown, Interior Approved 73 Drilling Permits for Companies On The Board Of IPAA

David Bernhardt is Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving IPAA until August 3, 2019 Under EO 13770. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 08/15/17]

David Bernhardt is Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving the U.S. Oil and Gas Association until August 3, 2019 Under EO 13770. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 08/15/17]

  • Bernhardt Was Also Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving the U.S. Oil and Gas Association until July 29, 2018, Under 5 CFR § 2635.502. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 08/15/17]

During the December 2018-January 2019 Government Shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Approved 20 Onshore Permits For Companies That Sit on the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) Board of Directors Or Are Affiliated of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association (USOGA). “Of the 38 onshore drilling permits approved by the Bureau of Land Management during the shutdown, 20 were for companies that sit on the board of directors of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) or affiliates of the U.S. Oil and Gas Association (USOGA), both former Bernhardt clients. When seeking office at the Interior Department, Bernhardt listed both trade associations on his ethics recusal and noted IPAA was a source of personal income on his financial disclosure.” [Westwise, 01/30/19]

IPAA Asked Interior To Reinstate Categorical Exemptions to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Bernhardt Issued A Memo Stating Exclusions Should Be “Fully and Properly” Considered Before NEPA Reviews

David Bernhardt is Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving IPAA until August 3, 2019 Under EO 13770. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 08/15/17]

In 2017, the IPAA Asked Interior to Reinstate Categorical Exclusions To the National Environmental Policy Act. The IPAA “praised Bernhardt in a 2017 letter for helping to reform the National Environmental Policy Act and asked that Interior reinstate ‘categorical exclusions,’ which allow the agency to streamline the analysis required to approve projects that could affect the environment, which can save the energy industry time and money.” [SNL Generation Markets Week, 12/19/17]

Bernhardt Authored A Memo Stating Exclusions Should Be “Fully and Properly” Considered Before NEPA Reviews. “[Bernhardt] later authored a memo stating that categorical exclusions should be ‘fully and properly’ considered before such reviews.” [CNN03/05/19]

IPAA’s President Was Nominated to Serve on the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee

Rory McMinn, A Director Of IPAA, Was Nominated For The Royalty Policy Committee (RPC). [DocumentCloud, 17 01162ce, pg. 295, accessed 06/21/19]

Other Interior Officials Have Also Met With IPAA

FWS Director Nominee And Former Monsanto Employee Aurelia Skipwith Has Been Involved In Sage Grouse Protection Rollbacks And Spoke At The IPAA.

Skipwith’s Calendars Show She Has Been Involved In The Rollback of Sage Grouse Protections And Spoke At The Independent Petroleum Association Of America (IPAA). “According to her publically released calendars, Skipwith has been deeply involved in the Trump administration’s rollback of habitat protections for the imperiled sage grouse and spoke at the oil and gas association Independent Petroleum Association of America’s (IPAA) regulators’ forum.” [DailyKos, 09/11/19]

  • The IPAA Is A Former Client Of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.  “The IPAA is a former client of Secretary Bernhardt’s whose political director was caught on tape laughing about the connections and access they have within the Trump administration,” stated O’Neill.” [DailyKos, 09/11/19]
  • Skipwith Sent Memos To FWS And The National Park Service Requesting Rules Regarding Bear And Wolf Killings Be Reviewed. “In July 2017, Skipwith sent memos to the National Park Service and FWS requesting they review rules that prevented hunters from killing bears and wolves using extreme techniques, like  baiting the animals with greasy doughnuts, ambushing mothers with pups in dens and shooting animals from boats while the bears are swimming,’ said O’Neill.” [DailyKos, 09/11/19]

Current Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife Solicitor Karen Budd-Falen Met With The Oil Industry Lobbyists Who Helped “Rewrite” Obama-Era Sage Grouse Management Plans

On June 13, 2019, Karen Budd-Falen had a meeting with representatives from the Independent Petroleum Association Of America (IPAA). In a calendar event titled simply, “Meeting,” Karen Budd-Falen met with people with the email addresses [email protected] and [email protected]. [Karen Budd-Falen Calendar, 06/13/19]

  • Mark Miller Is A Past Chairman Of IPAA And President Of Merlin Oil & Gas. [, accessed 09/26/19]
  • Dan Naatz Is A Lobbyist For IPAA. [Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, accessed 09/26/19]

IPAA’s Lobbyists Were “Integrally Involved In Rewriting Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans.” “During the Trump administration, IPAA has been integrally involved in rewriting sage-grouse conservation plans. Documents obtained by the Western Values Project indicate that IPAA lobbyists secured numerous meetings with key Interior Department officials, providing an entré for specific companies to give input into sage-grouse plans. In one instance, IPAA arranged phone calls for Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips, and EOG Resources to ask BLM for specific revisions to sage-grouse maps. During the process of amending the sage-grouse conservation plans, IPAA submitted formal comments recommending specific policy changes. It appears that certain IPAA recommendations — such as cutting requirements to offset habitat damage from development with conservation gains elsewhere — were accepted by the BLM, either partially or in full, as a part of the agency’s draft plans.” [Center For Western Priorities, 03/14/19]

Current Associate Deputy Secretary of the Interior James Cason Met With IPAA After Rumors Of Bernhardt’s Nomination To Be Secretary Began To Circulate

Cason Served as Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior until Bernhardt’s Nomination was Confirmed. Rumors of Bernhardt’s nomination to Deputy Secretary began circulating in January 2017. Cason joined the Trump Administration as Associate Deputy Secretary on January 20, 2017, and served as Acting Deputy Secretary until David Bernhardt was confirmed in July 2017. [ProPublica, 03/08/17Washington Post07/24/17]

Interior Chief Of Staff Todd Willens Met With IPAA

On April 26, 2018, Todd Willens had an external meeting with IPAA. They topics discussed at this meeting were MBTA, Mitigation, and the proposed removal of blanket 4(d). In addition to IPAA staff, this meeting included an employee of Noble Energy, which is also on Bernhardt’s recusal list. [Todd Willens Department Of Influence Profile, accessed 10/16/19, Todd Willens Calendar, 04/26/18]

IPAA And Its Members Spend Millions On Campaign Contributions

IPAA’s Political Action Fund Has Made Millions Of Dollars’ Worth Of Campaign Contributions

The IPAA Wildcatters Fund Is A PAC. According to their website, the IPAA Wildcatters Fund is a Political Action Committee that “creates avenues for member involvement in achieving and maintaining a pro-business, pro-oil and gas Congress.” [IPAA 2019 Membership Brochure, accessed 10/23/19]

  • IPAA PAC Had Given $86,800 To Federal Candidates In The 2020 Cycle As Of June 30, 2019. Ninety-two percent of this sum was given to Republican candidates. [Open Secrets, accessed 12/02/19]
  • In The 2018 Cycle, IPAA’s PAC Gave $242,500 To Federal Candidates. Ninety-six percent of this sum was given to republicans. [Open Secrets, accessed 12/02/19]
  • In The 2016 Cycle, IPAA’s PAC Gave $277,000 To Federal Candidates. Ninety-seven percent of this sum was given to republicans. [Open Secrets, accessed 12/02/19]
  • In The 2014 Cycle, IPAA’s PAC Gave $485,500 To Federal Candidates. Ninety-seven percent of this sum was given to republicans. [Open Secrets, accessed 12/02/19]
  • In The 2012 Cycle, IPAA’s PAC Gave $566,000 To Federal Candidates. Ninety-five percent of this sum was given to republicans. [Open Secrets, accessed 12/02/19]

IPAA Members Have Given Money To The Republican Party For Years

Shell Oil Company Has Given Over $30,000 To The Republican National State Elections Committee Between 1991 And 2019. [Open Secrets, accessed 06/04/19]

Chesapeake Energy Corporation Gave $100,000 To The Republican National State Elections Committee. [Source: Open Secrets, Search for Chesapeake Energy Corporation, accessed 06/04/19]

QEP Resources, Inc. Gave $25,000 In 2015 And $25,000 In 2017 To The Republican Governors Association. [Source: Political Money Line, Search for QEP Resources, Inc., accessed 06/04/19]

QEP Resources, Inc. Gave $10,000 To Various Republicans Through Their Political Action Committee (PAC). In 2011, QEP gave $2,500 to Wyoming Republican Cynthia Lummis. In 2017, QEP gave $2,500 to Colorado Republican Kevin McCarthy. In 2018, QEP gave $5,000 to Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise. [Source: OpenSecrets, Search for QEP Resources, accessed 06/04/19]

PDC Energy, Inc. Gave $555,000 To The Republican Governors Association And $350,000 To The Republican Attorneys General Association in 2018. [Source: Political Money Line, Search for PDC Energy, Inc, accessed 06/05/19]

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. Gave $130,000 To The Republican Governors Association between 2010-2018. [Source: Political Money Line, Search for Pioneer Natural Resources, accessed 06/05/19]

Noble Energy Inc. Gave $2,000 To Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise in 2018 and $50,000 To The Republican Governors Association In 2016. [Sources: Political Money Line, Search for Noble Energy Inc., accessed 06/05/19; OpenSecrets, Search for Noble Energy, accessed 06/05/19]

Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. Gave $335,000 To The Republican Governors Association Between 2009-2014. [Political Money Line, Search for Encana Oil & Gas, accessed 06/05/19]

Whiting Petroleum Corporation Gave $100,000 To The Republican Governor’s Association Between 2015-2017 and $1,000 to Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise in 2018. [Sources: Political Money Line, Search for Whiting Petroleum Corporation, accessed 06/05/19; OpenSecrets, Search for Whiting Petroleum Corporation, accessed 06/05/19]

Concho Resources, Inc. Gave $3,950 To The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) in 2015 and $200 To Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan in 2017. [Sources: Political Money Line, Search for Concho Resources., accessed 06/05/19; OpenSecrets, Search for Concho Resources, accessed 06/05/19]

Hess Corporation Gave $2,500 To North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry in 2018. [Source: OpenSecrets, Search for Hess Corporation, accessed 06/05/19]

IPAA Has Spent More Than $21 Million On Lobbying

IPAA Has Lobbied Interior, Its Agencies, Congress, And The Environmental Protection Agency. The IPAA has reported a total of $21,941,479 in lobbying between 1999 and Q3 2019. The entities they lobbied have included the U.S. House, Senate, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as Interior’s subagencies, including the Bureau Of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife SErvice and the U.S. Geological Survey. [US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database Search for IPAA, accessed 10/23/19]

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Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF)