Fossil Fuel Interests Have Spent Millions On The Republican Presidential Race

Natasha Geiling

Natasha Geiling Climate Reporter, ThinkProgress

Fossil Fuel Interests Have Spent Millions On The Republican Presidential Race

Fossil fuel interests have funneled more than $100 million into the Republican presidential campaign, according to analysis of Federal Election Committee data compiled by Greenpeace. That total means that about one in every three dollars given to Republican candidates came from someone with financial ties to the fossil fuel industry, and, according to the Guardian, represents “an unprecedented investment by the oil and gas industry in the party’s future.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Republican perhaps most poised to steal the nomination away from current front-runner Donald Trump, received more than $25 million from fossil fuel interests. The majority of the funds in his super PACs — 57 percent — came from backers attached to the oil and gas industry.

Cruz is one of the Senate’s most vocal climate deniers, frequently holding hearings in his role as the chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness that question the mainstream consensus on climate change. He has called climate change “not science” but “religion,” and frequently cites the misleading claim that satellite data hasn’t shown warming for the last 18 years (the long-term, gradual trend in temperature has gone distinctly upwards, and recent satellite data just confirmed that February was the hottest month on record).

“Ted Cruz’s complete denial of climate change science is perfectly in line with the business interests of his biggest funders,” Jesse Coleman, a Greenpeace oil and gas campaigner, told the Guardian. “These fossil funders have made denying climate change and ignoring scientists a prerequisite for being a Republican candidate.”

Cruz also derives a significant portion of his personal wealth from the fossil fuel industry, with fossil fuel investments making up anywhere from 15.8 to 22.7 percent of Cruz’s total assets. Research conducted by Christian R. Grose, an associate professor of political science at the University of Southern California, has found that a legislator’s personal financial interests likely have an impact on that legislator’s decision making.

But campaign groups told the Guardian that they were worried about the leverage that fossil fuel interests could hold on a Republican White House, especially if fossil fuel money helped the candidate get there.

It’s hard to find a Republican candidate that isn’t funded, at least in some way, by fossil fuel interests. Marco Rubio, who is still in the race despite poor showings in several key primaries, has received $7.7 million from fossil fuel supports — more than a quarter of the money in his super PACs. Former Republican candidates Chris Christie and Jeb Bush were also favorites of the fossil fuel industry, earning 39 percent and 26 percent of their super PAC money, respectively, through fossil fuel donations.

Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner, has, by contrast, received barely any funds from fossil fuel interests. That could change, however, if he becomes the eventual candidate and looks to outside sources to fund his general election campaign. Trump also has personal investments in the fossil fuel industry, with his personal financial disclosure statement showing that he has at least $250,000 worth of stock in TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. Trump has said that he wants TransCanada’s most infamous project, the Keystone XL pipeline, to be approved, but only if the United States is given a quarter of the profits “forever.”

But Republicans aren’t the only party to take donations from the fossil fuel industry. Hillary Clinton, according to Greenpeace’s analysis, has received $3.25 million from fossil fuel interests. A report from the Huffington Post found that Clinton’s biggest campaign bundlers have ties to the fossil fuel industry, with many lobbying for companies like Chevron, Exxon, and Exelon. Environmentalists have accused Clinton of maintaining close ties to the industry, arguing that it could undermine her climate policy.

“You can’t be serious about addressing climate change and still accept checks from ExxonMobil,” 350 Action spokesperson Jamie Henn told Grist last July.


This has been reposted from ThinkProgress.

Natasha Geiling is a climate reporter for ThinkProgress. Previously, she worked as an online reporter for Smithsonian Magazine, covering history, food, travel and science. Her writing has appeared online in Slate, Modern Farmer and Bustle. An Oregon-native, she received her B.A. in English from Wellesley College.

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