In March, the IPAA held a 2009 Washington Call-Up, leading the fight against harmful regulatory and legislative policies proposed for independents. More than 30 IPAA members from across the country gathered in Washington to participate. IPAA members met with dozens of representatives, senators and staff.

The meetings were held less than a week after President Obama proposed a $30-billion tax increase on American gas and oil producers as part of his fiscal year 2010 budget.

“I have no good news,” said Tim Murray, Houston-based managing director of private energy capital provider Guggenheim Partners LLC. Murray addressed his comments to TIPRO luncheon attendees at the Houston Petroleum Club.

“I think of (Washington) DC as a sort of alternate universe where the usual economic and accounting principals don’t apply and common sense is not a virtue,” said Murray.

The IPAA delegates met with democrats and republicans and were surprised by their lack knowledge about energy.

“People outside our industry don’t know a lot about it,” said Murray. “The representatives and senators from Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas know the business, although you might be a little surprised at the (lack of) depth of their knowledge. But the rest of them don’t have a clue.”

The most astonishing aspect, said Murray, is that representatives and legislators cannot distinguish between the majors and the independents. “It’s like we are all the oil industry and they are coming after all of us.
“We let them know that independents drill 90% of the wells and produce 82% of the gas. We didn’t tell them we produce 68% of the oil because we didn’t want to say the word ‘oil’. We told them we don’t have filling stations, refineries or billions of dollars in cash. We are small businesses. They were fiercely taking notes when we said this. We need to reinforce this message—we are not the bad guys.”

Murray and the other delegates also spread the message that carbon cap legislation will penalize coal power plants and nuclear power plants are unlikely as substitutes, so gas is the logical source of energy for power. If restrictions and onerous tax laws are implemented, gas production will be reduced and electricity and heating costs will increase.

Gas is the bridge fuel, said Murray, as he encouraged the attendees to write letters to their congressional representatives.

“We have 12 lobbyists there, and that is fine and wonderful, but these legislators want to hear from people who vote, who are in their districts and pay taxes and employ workers,” said Murray.