George Soros Handicapping American Energy

George Soros has been a brilliant investor over the years. As befits many hedge fund operators, he uses leverage to magnify his returns. But in his case, leverage has a double meaning.

Leverage can refer to the debt Soros assumes when he makes his investments. But it can also refer to the practice Soros has engaged in, both overseas and in America, to use his money and influence to bolster his political power -- power that he then uses to boost returns on his investments. He is not just a hedge fund billionaire but a crony capitalist kingpin who puts GE to shame.

His latest efforts to try to weaken American energy companies and empower their overseas rivals is by advocating the Securities and Exchange Commission draft laws that burden our companies-and leave foreign ones alone and untouched.

From the Hill:

Billionaire investor George Soros is urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to craft the "strongest" rules possible requiring oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments and urging against an exemption that Exxon and other companies are seeking. 

The SEC is crafting rules to implement a provision -- Section 1504 -- in last year's Wall Street reform law that forces oil and mining companies to provide the regulators specific information about payments connected to projects in foreign countries...

A suite of energy companies, in comments to the regulators, say they favor disclosure but warn that prescriptive rules would be burdensome and place them at a competitive disadvantage compared to certain state-backed oil companies from countries such as Russia and China.
In practice this is what would happen: American companies would not be able to reach deals to drill in foreign nations -- where much of the world's last undeveloped reserves are probably located. Not only would it be against the law to meet the overseas competition's terms, but Soros would probably unleash his bevy of think tanks, 527 groups, human rights  and monitoring groups to investigate American oil companies to ensure they have their hands tied. Meanwhile, competitors based in countries such as Russia and China that would not be subject to the same scrutiny. Nor do those countries -- or others, such as Saudi Arabia -- have an active and free press that would be more than eager to take leads and information from Soros's groups and turn them into exposes. These exposes, in America anyway, would then be grist for politicians to hold Congressional hearings and excoriate American energy executives for the cameras and the viewing public.

I have written numerous columns regarding the actions George Soros has taken over the years to hurt American oil and gas companies. He has a vested interest (to the tune of at least a billion dollars) in trying to rig the system to make his "clean energy" investments pay off. Since these investments need oil and gas to be high-priced, anything he can do to harm the companies that bring this bounty to the surface help those green schemes.

One of his favorites among the Soros-funded 527 Astroturf groups is MoveOn.Org, which recently protested against the development of shale gas, America's greatest hope to wean ourselves off of dependency on foreign sources of energy.

He has funded the Sundance Film Festival documentary effortsm and, voila! the festival lifted from obscurity a flawed documentary castigating developers of shale gas. Soros even even admitted that he saw Sundance documentaries as a method to bring about policy changes in America.

His comrades in arms Herbert and Marion Sandler founded and funded Pro Publica, a media machine that has a penchant for tendentious "exposes" on shale gas development. Of all the topics in America to focus on, why the one energy revolution that has brought abundant and cheap energy supplies to all Americans? Will Pro Publica -- supposedly independent -- ever investigate people who made billions running savings and loans that peddled unaffordable mortgages to those homebuyers least able to understand the terms and peril of those mortgages? If the intrepid journalists at Pro Publica chose to focus on such an important topic (the financial disaster of 2008 and beyond -- not a trifling topic) they might sit down with the Sandlers, since they perfectly fit that profile. They founded and ran a major California-based Savings and Loan that built an empire on such shaky loans, sold it to Wachovia before the bubble burst, and took their vast wealth to fund ultra-liberal groups.

Soros' (and the Sandlers') pet think tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), regularly advocates for restrictions on oil and gas development in America and promotes the very types of green schemes that Soros hopes will build up his fortune. The CAP is "Obama's Idea Factory" and the ideas have been flowing fast and furious from the administration; among those "ideas" have been to all but declare carbon a criminal molecule, put the brakes on developing our own oil and gas reserves, and pour billions and billions of taxpayer dollars into foolish and uneconomic and inefficient green schemes (the same type of plans that have led Spain toward bankruptcy; the same dreams that have become nightmares for Germany).

Soros is the sugar daddy of the Democratic Party and was an early and ardent supporter of Barack Obama (even finding a loophole in the law that permitted Soros and family members to give outsized donations to Senator Obama when he began his presidential run).

The party and the President have since taken actions that have drastically harmed our domestic energy industry (drilling moratoriums that were so egregious they merited a federal court judge's decision to hold the administration in contempt; sclerotic permitting processes, placing off-limits to leasing and drilling vast amounts of federal lands and offshore areas; trying to strip away tax benefits that encourage oil and drilling efforts -- tax deductions that have helped boost oil production and made oil and gas cheaper for all Americans; the list goes on and on).

Soros is now attempting to place American oil and gas companies at a disadvantage compared to foreign rivals, who will be more than happy to step up and work out deals with various foreign officials that will allow them to drill and develop while foreclosing the opportunities for American companies to do the same. If Soros were genuinely interested in preventing bribes and the like, why not use the United Nations to draft rules that apply universally? He certainly has friends at Turtle Bay.

I have pointed out in the past that Soros owns a large equity position (the second-largest) in InterOil, An Australian energy company that has access to apparently vast reserves of gas in Papua New Guinea. That company, and other foreign-owned energy companies, would escape the burden that Soros advocates the Securities and Exchange Commission unilaterally impose on American energy companies.

George Soros' hedge funds are based in the  Netherland Antilles and the Cayman Islands. His investors are not publicly disclosed. One can speculate that George Soros may very well have investors in his funds that would benefit from American oil companies being placed at a competitive disadvantage compared to foreign ones. We will never know because Soros -- who advocates rules and regulations to restrict and weaken others, who advocates for transparency -- is quite content to keep his investors secret. Could they include Arab oil potentates? Could they include Russian oil barons and foreign governments who benefit from sky-high energy prices? Are Russian and Chinese oil companies investors in Soros's hedge funds?

Harming America, helping foreign rivals.

That seems to be a theme these days among the powers-that-be.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.