Trump seeks out loyal donors in West Texas fracking fields

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s visit to a U.S. fracking hub on the West Texas plains comes during the state’s fierce coronavirus outbreak and a global oil and gas glut that is putting the squeeze on his loyal donors in the petroleum industry.

Trump is combining some fundraising Wednesday with his first trip to an oil and gas rig and to his first visit as president to the Permian Basin. He’ll pull in up to $100,000 a person at a roundtable with supporters.

Even as Air Force One carried Trump to Texas on Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported U.S. petroleum use plummeted to a nearly 40-year low this spring, owing to the pandemic lockdown and to market oversupply due in part to intensive oil and gas production that Trump encouraged. Oil and gas prices and production have picked up somewhat since, but it’s still a tough time in U.S. oilfields.

Trump’s government has exerted itself for the oil and gas industry at least as hard it has for any other sector. That includes rolling back environmental and public health protections while promoting a technology-driven surge in U.S. oil and gas production — begun under President Barack Obama — as part of what Trump describes as an American march to global energy dominance.

And next month, the administration is expected to announce its latest effort to block regulation of the industry’s emissions of methane, a potent agent of climate change. West Texas environmental activists say the methane emissions are part of a too-little-regulated industry’s assault on the air, water and public health in the region’s yearslong expansion of oil and gas production. Successful legal challenges stopped the administration’s earlier attempts.

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