Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Blowing the Whistle on Dirty Energy Money

Energy
Blowing the Whistle on Dirty Energy Money

Oil Change International

By Steve Kretzmann

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, as Washington readies for the annual State of the Union address, more than 500 people in referee outfits are converging on Capitol Hill to “blow the whistle” on Congress. Why? Consider these two facts:

1. The American people believe (rightly) that Members of Congress are more responsive to their campaign donors than to their own constituents.

2. Americans of all affiliations clearly favor ending fossil fuel industry handouts.

Americans are sick of watching Congress receive bribes from the fossil fuel industry to vote for scams like the Keystone XL pipeline and fossil fuel subsidies.  We see what’s happening, and we’re declaring it out of bounds and unsportsmanlike from this point forward.

The five biggest oil companies alone have made more than $1 trillion in profits over the last decade. It’s absurd that these companies still demand, and still receive, handouts from Congress paid for by taxpayers. This isn’t about energy or jobs—it’s about greed and corruption.

Listed below is some useful information about the cycle of dirty energy money corruption going on in Congress.

Money In—Campaign Finance

(All data is from Oil Change International’s Dirty Energy Money campaign which uses public data made available by the Center for Responsive Politics.)

Since 1999, the coal, oil and gas industries have shelled out more than $93 million to current members of Congress.

The trend is increasing with each election cycle, and current members of Congress took more than $25 million in campaign contributions from the oil, coal and gas industries in 2009-2010.

Through October of 2011, dirty energy interests had given this Congress $7.8 million in this cycle alone.

Speaker Boehner has received the most money from the fossil fuel industry during this term, with more than $287,000 received from the oil, gas and coal industries.

It is worth noting that direct contributions to candidates are only one way that the fossil fuel industry exerts influence. Substantially larger sums of money are mobilized by SuperPacs and other entities.

Money Out—Subsidies

Each year that the president has submitted a budget, it has included eliminating $4 billion in annual subsidies to the dirty energy industry. Each year Congress has been unable to eliminate the subsidies.

In a vote in May of 2011, the reason was clear. Senators who voted to preserve subsidies took an average of five times more dirty energy money than those who voted to stop handouts to the oil industry.

In October of 2011 a large coalition called on the Super Committee to eliminate $12 billion annually in fossil fuel subsidies.

Our tax dollars also fund billions in fossil fuel projects around the world, via institutions like the World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank.

Dirty Energy Money and the Keystone XL Pipeline

Earlier this month, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard threatened President Obama with “huge political consequences” if he rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. This threat was unusual only because it was public, but the industry clearly continues to implicitly threaten all of our elected Representatives.

In July, the House of Representatives voted on the Keystone XL pipeline. Those Representatives who voted for the pipeline received 513 percent more from the oil and gas industry than those who voted against it.

In total, those who voted for the pipeline have received $10,922,161 from the oil and gas industry while those who voted against the pipeline have received only $717,552. In other words, those that voted for the pipeline have received 15 times more money from the oil and gas industry.

In December, the House held another vote with similar results. Members of Congress who supported the measure have received $41 million from the fossil fuel industry, while those who voted against the bill have received only about $8 million from oil, gas and coal interests.

An analysis by ThinkProgress of lobbying disclosure records for the first, second, and third quarters of 2011 suggests that the lobbying expenses of the 20 or more business and labor interests who backed the project was $60 million compared to $1 million by the seven organizations that actively opposed the measure.

TransCanada’s lobbying efforts alone over the first three quarters of 2011 totalled $920,000, just under the total amount spent by its opponents..

Political Return on Investment

Buying Congress is a great investment for the oil, gas and coal industries.  During the last two year cycle, they put in $25 million, and they got out at least $4 billion annually—$8 billion. In other words, for every $1 that the fossil fuel industry invests in Congress, they get at least $320 back.

For more information, click here.

Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less
Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

Read More Show Less