The ads appear on Facebook millions of times a week. They take aim at vulnerable Democrats in Congress by name, warning that the $3.5 trillion budget bill — one of the Biden administration’s biggest efforts to pass meaningful climate policy — will wreck the United States economy.
“Some politicians including Rep. Houlahan are setting their sights on pushing for tax hikes on U.S. energy producers,” reads an ad attacking Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania that started running Sept. 15. “Tax hikes on U.S. energy producers is equal to risking U.S. energy jobs. Call Rep. Houlahan now!”
The paid posts are part of a broad attack by the oil and gas industry against the budget bill, whose fate now hangs in the balance. Among the climate provisions that are likely to be left out of the plan is an effort to dismantle billions of dollars in fossil-fuel tax breaks — provisions that experts say incentivize the burning of fossil fuels responsible for catastrophic climate change.
On Thursday, details emerged of an agreement between Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, and Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a Democrat with huge sway in the divided Senate who has said he doesn’t support such an expansive bill. According to a memo outlining the agreement, first obtained by Politico, Mr. Manchin said that if the legislation were to include extensions of smaller tax credits for wind and solar power, it shouldn’t undo tax breaks for fossil fuel producers.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s biggest trade group, has been central to efforts to push for continued tax breaks for oil and gas. It is using a front group, called Energy Citizens, that API also used a decade ago to successfully thwart a “cap and trade” plan that would have set a ceiling on emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, while letting companies buy and sell special permits to stay under that ceiling.
In the first six months of this year, API…