Oil, gas and coal interests have strongly favored the campaigns of Republicans, including some members of Congress now seeking to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. They have donated four times as much to the campaigns of Republicans as Democrats, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of federal elections records for 2009 and 2010.
During that time, companies in the fossil fuel industries gave more than $15.5 million to Republicans now in Congress, and only slightly more than $3.7 million to Democrats. Environmental groups, by contrast, gave primarily to Democrats, though their contributions were relatively small, totaling less than $1.8 million.
Michigan Republican Fred Upton, who has introduced legislation that would bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, received just under $150,000 in 2009 and 2010 from the fossil fuel industries. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, took in about $258,000 during the same time.
In the U.S. Senate, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin , an ally of the coal industry, received more from the fossil fuel industry than any other Democrat – and, indeed, more than most Republicans – in 2009 and 2010. Manchin has signed on to the Senate version of legislation that would strip the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Spending by both fossil fuel companies and environmental groups ramped up, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis, in the months leading up to the 2010 midterm elections, in which Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.
Since that election, the EPA has come under fire, with some in Congress – primarily Republicans – focusing on blocking the agency’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. While questioning the broad scientific consensus the carbon dioxide and other emissions are responsible for climate change, they say the agency’s actions could harm the economy, drive jobs offshore, and constitute a hidden energy tax. They have added language to spending legislation known as “riders,” which would prevent any funding for some EPA regulatory action, including regulation of greenhouse gas emissions .
Upton has said that EPA regulation would increase already-soaring gasoline prices. “These rules are about as out-of-touch with what the American people want as anything moving forward in Washington…High energy prices not only hurt households, they burden small businesses and farmers as well.”
The House and Senate are expected to vote on the legislation within days. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama say they oppose the riders, and Obama said Tuesday he will veto Upton’s bill. In a statement, the President said the bill would halt “common-sense steps” to protect Americans from air pollution and would increase dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.