Oil and gas industry interests often complain about the government “picking winners” in the economic marketplace, but they don’t seem to mind trying to pick winners when it comes to politics. Oil and gas companies’ political action committees (PACs) have overwhelmingly favored Republicans with campaign contributions for the upcoming 2014 election cycle, with nearly six dollars going to GOP candidates for every dollar sent to a Democrat, according to recent data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Although the 2014 elections are over a year away, it is clear that the big players in the oil and gas industry are already lining up behind their preferred candidates. Historically, this split is nothing new, although it has increased slightly over time. As far back as 1998, oil and gas PACs gave disproportionately to Republicans, 78 percent to 22 percent.
The top five PACs, which have each already given over $150,000 for the 2014 elections, are Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Marathon Petroleum, Halliburton, and Chevron. The highest amount so far given by a PAC in this industry to various Republican candidates is $304,000. On the other hand, the highest amount given by an oil and gas PAC to various Democratic candidates is only $40,000.
Congressional Republicans receiving this money are speaking out in favor of their financial backers. In July, House Republicans proposed slashing the EPA budget by 34 percent in 2014 and blocking federal rules designed to limit carbon emissions from power plants. In addition, many congressional Republicans these recipients are trying to block the Department of the Interior from enforcing regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Even while home for the August recess, several recipients of this PAC money are continuing the pressure against action that might constrain fossil fuel interests. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), vice chair of the House Committee on Science, said last weekend that “global warming is a total fraud,” and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said at a forum that he “will defund the EPA.” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), also recently accused opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline of being too concerned with protecting the environment. He has already received $20,000 from the industry for this upcoming cycle.
This is not to say that some Democrats don’t also cater to the oil and gas interests that fund their campaigns, but it has historically been an issue more prevalent with Republican candidates.
The mining industry, whose campaign giving predominately is driven by coal mining interests, also favors Republicans, with 83 percent ($476,000) of the industry’s money given to GOP candidates for the 2014 cycle. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who famously shot a hole through a cap and trade bill in a 2010 campaign advertisement, has also received a large amount of money from the industry and is staunchly opposed to carbon regulation. He received over $65,000 in the 2010 election cycle from the mining industry.