House Republicans have declared this “Energy Week” and they are rolling out a series of legislative efforts that include speeding up liquefied natural gas exports, jamming the President and the State Department’s ability to delay the Keystone XL pipeline, and blocking the new EPA power plant rule.
The corporate interests that would benefit from these efforts have been spending big money to influence Congress. Here are seven facts about energy industry influence spending in Washington:
- The energy sector spent more on federal elections in the 2012 election cycle than ever before, and energy donors gave strategically, directing 80% to Republican candidates. This includes more than $30 million in contributions to House Republican candidates. Energy money this cycle is on-track to surpass the previous mid-term elections, with energy industry PACs and executives already giving $47 million overall.
- Though oil and gas interests dominate energy giving overall, the very top donors within the sector tend to be coal interests. Campaign spending this cycle is led by Alliance Resource Partners, a coal producer with more mines in Kentucky than any other state, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which relies on old, heavily polluting coal plants, including Big Rivers Electric in Kentucky.
- Energy interests have given, on average, $71,247 to House Republicans this cycle, nearly four times more than average giving to House Democrats. Energy donors have been comprehensive in their approach.
- Top recipients in the House include Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.), whose bill this week would speed up approval for oil and gas pipelines, and Rep. Steven Daines (R-Mt.), whose bill would block implementation of the EPA power plant emissions rule.
- Energy interests have spent $449 million on lobbying in the current Congress, employing over 2,000 lobbyists. Between 2013 and the first quarter of 2014, the oil and gas industry has led lobbying spending in this sector ($178 million), with electric utilities close behind ($168 million).
Within the energy sector, the emphasis on Republican candidates is particularly dramatic among oil, gas and coal interests. By contrast, donors that represent alternative or renewable energy interests give much less and tend to give more to Democratic candidates. This leaves little doubt “Energy Week” will really be “Dirty Energy Week” in the halls of Congress.