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Bob Dole has stake in oil

It turns out that Bob Dole owns an interest in oil too.

In the ongoing who-loves-big-oil debate in the U.S. Senate campaign comes news that former Sen. Bob Dole has a million-dollar stake in a fund that trades on oil prices, reports Barb Barrett.

Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that Bob Dole has a stake of more than $1 million in an offshore hedge fund. The fund speculates on the prices of crude oil, heating oil, natural gas and gasoline, Politico reports.

It cites the personal financial disclosure reports of his wife, Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. She’s running for re-election against Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan.

Easley: N.C. should control drilling leases

As offshore drilling looks more and more like a possibility, politicians are trying to shape what might happen off North Carolina’s coastline.

Gov. Mike Easley told the state’s congressional delegation today that he wants North Carolina – not oil companies – to hold any leases that are put out for offshore drilling, reports Barb Barrett.

Easley's comments come in the wake of a bill in the U.S. House to open up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling. That bill, approved late Tuesday, was supported by nine of the state’s 13 House members.

The federal government usually leases acreage to oil companies for several years, putting the leases out to bid and earning money both from fees and a share of oil revenues.

But Easley said North Carolina should get any leases – without paying the federal fees.

“North Carolina's intention is to maintain control over the exploration, drilling and production of this petroleum to guarantee that it benefits our people,” Easley wrote the delegation.

He added: “Otherwise, in the current legislation, private oil companies could drill and drain these last reserves off our coast long before they have exhausted the supply elsewhere.”

More after the jump.

Hagan's position on offshore drilling

Kay Hagan supports the Gang of 20 legislation.

The Democratic Senate candidate originally opposed lifting a federal ban on offshore drilling in the United States, as did her Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Hagan switched positions in August, backing a Senate bill that would lift the ban as part of a broader package to promote alternative energy and conservation.

Spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan noted that the bill would leave the decision on drilling in North Carolina up to the state. She said Hagan would support drilling here if the governor and the legislature decide to allow it.

In late July, the Transylvania Times reported that Hagan did not support drilling here.

"She said some oil drilling is necessary, but not off the coast of North Carolina," the newspaper wrote.

But Flanagan said that the story predated Hagan's decision to endorse the Gang of 20 bill and no longer represents her views.

"If the governor and the legislature decide to allow drilling, Kay would support that," she said.

What would Gang of 20 bill do?

What would the Gang of 20 legislation do?

A growing bipartisan group of senators is promoting the New Energy Reform Act of 2008 as a response to high gas prices this session.

The bill has been endorsed by Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who joined the Gang of (n+1) last week.

Although it is still being refined, the bill aims to reduce U.S. dependence on gasoline and diesel over the next 10 years in favor of alternative fuels, energy efficiency and conservation.

It would also lift a federal moratorium on offshore drilling in the United States.

The bill would open additional areas in the Gulf of Mexico to leasing by oil companies and allow Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to decide whether to permit drilling. 

In that sense, the legislation would not necessarily lead to offshore drilling off the Outer Banks, since the state legislature and governor could decide against it.

In addition, it currently calls for a 50-mile buffer, allowing drilling only between 50 and 200 miles off the coast.

Dole joins bipartisan 'gang' on energy

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has joined a bipartisan group pushing energy reform.

Originally called the "Gang of 10," the group has grown to 10 Republican and 10 Democratic senators pushing the New Energy Reform Act of 2008.

The bill would open additional land in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling and allow North Carolina and other states to decide whether to allow drilling. 

It would also provide tax credits for the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, invest $15 billion in research and development of alternative fuel vehicles and support nuclear energy.

"For many months, I have been urging my colleagues to lay down their arms and work together to achieve a bipartisan solution to address high gas prices and our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil," said Dole in a statement.

In early August, Dole said she would support the bill, but she did not join the "gang" of senators promoting it.

Her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan, also supports the legislation. 

Claims Dept: Dole on Hagan's oil

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's latest TV ad attacks Democratic rival Kay Hagan for her ownership of oil and gas wells and her stance on offshore drilling.

What it says: The ad shows images of Hagan, oil wells and gas pumps. Narrator: "Fibber Kay Hagan claims she's against Big Oil, but Kay Hagan is Big Oil. Each time you buy gas, her cash register goes 'ka-ching!' Kay and her husband own multiple oil and gas wells in Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio. But Kay is against offshore drilling. Must not own any of those." Dole: "I'm Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message."

The background: According to a U.S. Senate financial disclosure form, Hagan and her husband, Chip, have stakes in five companies: Ace Midwest Partners, Psigen Sullivan Partners, Jasmine Oil Wells, Chrisjo Energy Inc. and Ergon Oil Co.

The companies operate oil and gas wells in Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio.

Though the exact amount was not disclosed, each of the investments was listed as being worth between $15,000 and $50,000. That puts the couple's overall stake somewhere between $90,000 and $300,000.

"These are Chip's," said Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan. "He has investments in domestic oil wells, which are local businesses contributing to the economy."

Both Dole and Hagan previously supported a federal moratorium on oil exploration off the North Carolina coast.

In June, Dole reversed herself, citing high gas prices. At the time, Hagan criticized her, saying the U.S. "cannot drill ourselves enough oil to solve this problem."

But a month later, Hagan also reversed herself, saying she supports a bipartisan proposal by a group of U.S. senators that would leave the decision on offshore drilling up to North Carolina and other states, promote alternative energy and encourage conservation.

Dole has said she would also support that proposal.

Is it accurate? No. Hagan's investments in oil and gas wells are substantial, but they hardly qualify her for membership in OPEC. Like Dole, she no longer supports a federal ban on offshore drilling in North Carolina and would leave the decision up to the state.

— Ryan Teague Beckwith

Hagan, Dole support offshore drilling

Both candidates for U.S. Senate support offshore drilling.

The Associated Press reports that Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole have both stated in recent months they would support drilling, a reversal of both of their earlier positions against it.

In a new TV ad, the Dole campaign says that Hagan opposes drilling: 

Dole has long supported a federal moratorium on such exploration off the North Carolina coast, saying it was necessary to protect the state tourism industry and marine habitat. She changed her mind in June, also citing high gas prices.

At that time, Hagan, a veteran state senator, slammed Dole for the decision, saying "empty rhetoric and false promises won't lower gas prices." But a month later, Hagan softened her stance by signing on to a bipartisan proposal offered by a small group of U.S. senators that included drilling, saying she was willing to approve such exploration as part of a compromise.

Flanagan said Wednesday that Hagan supports the idea of drilling as a solution and called Dole’s ad a "lie."

Dole spokesman Dan McLagan said the campaign was under the impression that Hagan opposed offshore drilling, saying she's repeated the mantra in interview after interview.

"I don't think Hagan can keep track of what she has flip-flopped on anymore," McLagan said.

Hagan backs the bipartisan Gang of 16 legislation, which would open up spots in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and allow North Carolina and other states to decide whether to allow drilling.

Dole also supports giving states the option. 

How much does Hagan have in oil?

How invested is Kay Hagan in oil?

A new TV ad from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole attacks her Democratic opponent for owning oil and gas wells, tying it to her stance on offshore drilling.

"Fibber Kay Hagan claims she's against Big Oil, but Kay Hagan is Big Oil," the narrator says. "Each time you buy gas, her cash register goes ka-ching!"

According to a U.S. Senate financial disclosure form filed in February, Hagan and her husband, Chip, own oil and gas wells in five states:

* ACE Midwest Partners in Kansas and Oklahoma,

* Psigen Sullivan Partners in Indiana, 

* Jasmine Oil Wells and Chrisjo Energy Inc. in Oklahoma, and

* Ergon Oil Co. in West Virginia.

Each of the investments is valued somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000, so the total investment is between $90,000 and $300,000.

Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said the investments were made by Chip Hagan, who also owns a stake in a hydroelectric plant.

"Contrary to what Dole would have you believe, these are not 'Big Oil' wells — they are not the Exxons and the Mobils and the Chevrons," she said. 

Munger: Offshore drilling is a gimmick

Mike Munger says offshore drilling is a gimmick.

The Libertarian gubernatorial candidate told Dome that after watching the debate last night online he thought the answers of his Republican and Democratic opponents were "shallow and unimaginative, even by the rather low standards of the other debates so far."

"The offshore oil drilling 'issue' is a gimmick," he wrote in an e-mail. "There will no effect, zero, on prices in N.C. The governor of N.C. needs to work to make sure that HIGH prices have the economic benefit of encouraging the development of alternative energy sources."

Munger was writing from Australia, where he was invited to lecture and learn about alternative energy sources and waste management.

"I have the background, and ideas for solutions, that will help North Carolina solve its energy problems," he wrote. "Bickering about drilling off the coast of N.C. isn't going to solve anything." 

Munger was not invited to the WRAL debate. 

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