Political Contributions & Lobbying
We regularly communicate with our legislators, regulators and other policymakers through our Government Relations team, and our executives and subject-matter experts where needed. We have a three-pronged approach to advocacy:
- Educating our elected officials and regulators on issues affecting the company and our industry.
- Elevating the conversation above partisan politics.
- Engaging with legislators and regulators to support responsible and reasonable laws and regulations.
Engaging Stakeholders through Industry Collaboration
Trade associations advocate for targeted public policies and allow us to proactively engage with our stakeholders as an industry. Marathon Oil employees participate and take leadership roles in organizations including the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA), Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma (PAO), Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA), New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC), Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM), American Petroleum Institute (API), Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC).
We support these organizations with our membership dues (a portion of which are used for lobbying efforts). We recognize that our advocacy positions will not always align with all advocacy positions taken by our various trade organizations. Therefore, we provide our advocacy positions on key issues with respect to climate change in this report for clarity.
Engaging on Climate Change Public Policy
Marathon Oil shares the oil and gas industry’s commitment to providing abundant, low-cost and reliable energy while reducing carbon emissions. We believe real, lasting climate solutions are driven by innovation and technology breakthroughs that enhance our way of life and reduce emissions.
We believe that successful public policy must recognize that oil and gas underpins our standard of living and American oil and gas is critical to our national security and economic prosperity. We will support policy that:
- Facilitates meaningful GHG emissions reductions.
- Requires proportional participation from all sectors of the economy.
- Utilizes fair, consistent and transparent measurement methodologies across industries.
- Encourages and appropriately accounts for early and/or voluntary actions.
- Minimizes inconsistent, redundant and/or contradictory regulations and policies.
- Attributes to energy producers only emissions arising during production operations.
- Balances economic, environmental and energy security needs.
- Ensures the development of critical energy infrastructure.
- Makes the costs and associated climate benefits of any policy fully transparent to the American public.
- Ensures that the United States shoulders an equitable burden under international agreements.
- Does not disadvantage American oil and gas producers and workers against foreign competitors.
- Promotes innovation.
- Champions economy-wide public and private investment to develop cost-effective technologies that will materially reduce GHG emissions.
- Relies upon predictable and economically efficient policy frameworks, such as the use of market-based policies and/or offsets, to deliver outcomes at the lowest cost to society.
- Allows all energy sources to compete for innovation funding.
Working with Elected Officials and Community and Tribal Leaders
We believe that constructive engagements with local and state elected officials help us to be a more effective operator and community partner. Our asset teams meet with county commissioners, mayors, county judges and other local officials to update them on our plans, resolve issues and understand community concerns. Though COVID-19 severely limited in-person stakeholder engagement activities in each of our assets, we quickly transitioned to virtual and physically-distant activities, where possible. See the Stakeholder Engagement section for more information.
Bakken Asset, North Dakota
In the Williston Basin, key stakeholders include North Dakota legislators and regulators and leaders of the Three Affiliated Tribes (TAT) on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Our relationship with the Tribes started in 2008 when we became the first company to drill on the TAT reservation, which is home to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation. We respect and honor the TAT culture, tribal traditions and beliefs, and through more than 10 years of interactions, we’ve developed positive and meaningful relationships.
Marathon Oil engages the TAT on tribal consultation, infrastructure, economic development, employment opportunities, operational impacts, permitting, land access, regulations and other issues. We comply with tribal regulations, such as those set by the Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO), which aim to strengthen business opportunities for companies owned 100% by a member of the TAT. For more information on our engagement with Indigenous suppliers, see the Supply Chain Management section.
In 2020, we participated in a bi-weekly operator task force that was organized through the Tribal Chairman’s Office. This helped foster a two-way conversation with industry operators and the TAT regarding impacts from COVID-19, including safety and health measures. This allowed us to better understand the TAT’s needs, and resulted in Marathon Oil providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and food bank donations.
Eagle Ford Asset, Texas
Many local stakeholders in the Eagle Ford region were strong advocates against a 2020 proposal to prorate oil production in the state due to the negative financial impact it would have on their communities. These local stakeholders wrote a letter to the Railroad Commission of Texas and participated in hearings. Our CEO, Lee Tillman, also testified before the Railroad Commission of Texas in opposition to the proration proposal. Read more here.
While we were unable to host stakeholder engagement tours of Marathon Oil rigs in 2020 due to COVID-19, we were able to safely host newly elected Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright at our Eagle Ford operations in March 2021.
STACK/SCOOP Asset, Oklahoma
Marathon Oil joined a broad coalition to support the passage and signing into law of the Oil and Gas Produced Water and Waste Recycling and Reuse Act in Oklahoma in May 2020. The act designates who owns and is responsible for produced water and waste from oil and natural gas drilling and production operations. The Act also seeks to encourage producers to use recycled produced water for their operations, allowing freshwater resources to be saved for other uses.
We are a founding member of the Energize for Safety Coalition, which brings together county commissioners, sheriffs, fire chiefs, the State Department of Public Safety and the State Department of Transportation to address road safety concerns in our operating areas. We also lead an industry work group and engage directly with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to address regulatory issues.
In Oklahoma, we also contribute a percentage of our oil and gas sales to participate in the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB). During the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the OERB continued its work to provide STEM curriculum content and professional development resources to teachers transitioning to virtual learning. The OERB provided online lesson plans and weekly distance-learning resources to families and educators throughout the state. Marathon Oil’s manager of HES for our Oklahoma Resource Basin Asset joined the OERB board of directors in 2020.
Permian Asset, New Mexico
At the beginning of 2020, our Permian Asset Leadership Team met with New Mexico’s cabinet secretaries of the Environment and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources departments to provide input on the direction of the Permian’s emissions reduction strategy.
We also spoke to an interim committee of the New Mexico legislature on produced water and participated in various webinars. This included an Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission’s Produced Water session to inform regulators and stakeholders in various states about the Produced Water Act in New Mexico and to advocate for similar legislation elsewhere. The Act encourages and facilitates the recycling and reuse of produced water by oil and gas producers.
We contribute to candidates and organizations that support responsible energy development. In 2020, Marathon Oil made direct corporate contributions totaling $62,500 to six candidates, political party organizations and political action committees (PACs), as allowed by state law in New Mexico.
Through the Marathon Oil Company Employees Political Action Committee (MEPAC), eligible employees can contribute to candidates for U.S. federal and state elected office. In 2020, MEPAC donated $178,825 to 123 candidates, political party organizations and PACs. MEPAC is registered with the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and complies with all FEC, state and local rules and reporting requirements.
MEPAC is managed by a board of employee directors, with the Health, Environmental, Safety and Corporate Responsibility (HES&CR) Committee of the Marathon Oil board of directors serving in an advisory role. All PAC contributions are based on a candidate’s position on business issues and without regard for the personal political preferences of company executives or PAC board members.
Marathon Oil also makes payments to organizations and trade associations that engage in, among other things, lobbying activities. Through these trade associations, we participate in the U.S. public policy dialogue about critical environmental and energy policies, including rulemaking comment periods regarding issues related to climate change. In the interest of good governance and transparency, we voluntarily report these payments (as more specifically described below), and our policies and procedures for lobbying and political activities, in our Report of Lobbying and Political Contributions.
Our 2020 Lobbying Report discloses corporate contributions made to tax-exempt 527s and 501(c)(4)s that exceeded $35,000, and which the recipient may use for political purposes. Based on information we received from our trade associations, the report also discloses the lobbying portion of our payments and dues made to trade organizations that, if made directly by the company, would not be deductible under section 162(e) of the Internal Revenue Code and that exceed $35,000.
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