This post first appeared at Public Campaign.
On Sunday, September 21, 2014, organizers estimated that 310,000 people descended on New York City for the People’s Climate March. For the occasion, we found the top 10ways big polluters have contaminated our politics, and here they are in no particular order:
- The energy sector spent more on federal elections in the 2012 election cycle than ever before. In 2014, energy money is on track to surpass the 2010 midterm elections with energy industry PACs, CEOs and executives giving $68 million overall (OpenSecrets.org).
- Energy interests have given, on average, $104,146 to House Republicans this cycle, nearly four times more than the average given to House Democrats (OpenSecrets.org).
- So far this year, energy companies have spent at least $174 million on lobbying, employing 1,836 lobbyists. In addition, 56.3 percent of those lobbyists are “revolvers,” who switch from the public to private sectors (OpenSecrets.org).
- A new report shows the Koch brothers have give more than $50 million to 254 higher education institutions in order to continue their campaign of undermining climate science and move their anti-worker agenda forward (Greenpeace).
- The very top donors within the energy sector tend to be coal interests, and have been led in the 2014 cycle by Alliance Resource Partners, a coal producer with more coal mines in Kentucky than any other state. The other big donor this cycle is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which uses old, heavily polluting coal plants (Alliance Resource Partners and Forbes).
- Climate deniers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee have taken some of the highest donations from energy companies. Members who deny climate science took an average of over $72,000 from energy interests, while members who accept climate change is real only received $19,000 on average (Public Campaign).
- Senator Mitch McConnell has received over $314,000 from the chemical industry, and has blocked the Safe Chemical Act, which would protect everyday Americans from pollutants. Even Kentucky public health professionals were urging him to back the bill (Kentucky Environmental Foundation).
- Coal and gas companies and the Koch brothers are fighting to ensure solar technology is kept off the grid, protecting their profits by imposing a surtax on home-installed solar technology (The New York Times).
- Shaun McCutcheon, who was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision, is a climate denier who made his fortune in the coal industry. Thanks to the Supreme Court, he’s able to now donate up to approximately $3.6 million, instead of the previous $123,200 limit (Sierra Club).
- Because of the vast amounts given to climate deniers, in the 113th Congress alone, there have been 44 votes to block action on the climate crisis, 88 votes attacking public lands and wilderness, 44 attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act and 68 attacks on the Clean Water Act (Sierra Club).
What’s a solution to decrease the influence of these big polluters? The Government By The People Act is one solution that would empower everyday Americans and reform financing of elections. Find out more at OfBy.Us.