The graph above shows the money spent by the gas and oil industry in lobbying Democratic (blue) and Republican (red) politicians in national elections from 1990-2012. The industry, which includes multinational and independent oil and gas producers and refiners, natural gas pipeline companies, gasoline service stations and fuel oil dealers, donated a total of almost $70 million in the 2012 election cycle. Ninety percent of that went to Republican candidates and 10 percent to Democrats. Seventy-five percent of the $238.7 million spent since 1990 by individuals and political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies went to Republicans.
The top contributors in the oil and gas sector are:
It’s obvious that by accepting the millions generated by fossil fuel production the recipients of this largesse are bound to promote the interests of their benefactors. High on that list are the approval of the Keystone Pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the rejection of cap-and-trade legislation and the denial of climate change.
Last summer, 229 House Republicans joined with 19 Democrats to pass a bill (H.R. 4480) that would have opened federal lands to oil and gas exploration and production and defanged the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) by lowering standards for smog and pollution. The bill didn’t make it through the Senate. Republicans argued that the U.S. needs new sources of domestic energy to decrease American dependence on foreign oil and that increasing energy production would create new jobs.
Here’s where it gets interesting:
The 248 members of congress who voted in favor of the bill received a total of $38.6 million in oil and gas campaign cash — an average of $156,000 each — for their federal campaigns. The 163 members who voted against Big Oil — 158 Democrats and 5 Republicans — received $5.8 million, or $36,000 each. Over their careers, the politicians who voted in favor of the oil and gas industry received over four times more in contributions from the industry than their colleagues who voted against those interests. Money talks.
Graphs and data from the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.