US Lawmakers Opposing Environmental Protections Get Clear Rewards From Oil & Gas Industry

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A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that US lawmakers opposing environmental protections get rewards from the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas companies spent $84 million on congressional campaigns in 2018 according to an analysis of votes and political contributions. When the US legislators oppose environmental protections, this new analysis of congressional votes shows that the oil and gas industry rewards them with campaign donations.

Image courtesy Open Secrets

Researchers found a link between an increase in anti-environment votes and an increase in financial contributions. They noticed how the lawmakers’ scores from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) dipped and then were followed by campaign funding from the industry. There is a 10% decrease on average in the LCV score in an election cycle that was associated with an additional in $1,700 campaign funds from the corporations in the following cycle. In other words, every time those scores dipped, they got paid.

This study basically just found out what everyone knows. Lobbying works. It is why companies lobby politicians. Whether explicitly or implicitly, politicians know that if they do what a certain lobbyist wants, a certain company or industry is going to put some money in their re-election bank account. They also know that if they sign onto certain bills, voters who support them may not like them, but they also won’t vote those politicians out of office. On the other hand, if they don’t do what certain corporations want, they may face a heavily funded primary opponent.

This study analyzed data across almost three decades: 1990 through 2018. In 1990, 63% of oil and gas money went to Republicans. In 2018, 88% of the industry’s campaign donations were to the more conservative party. I’m just going to state the obvious here: 2 + 2 equals 4. In other words, the oil and gas companies know who their allies are — the “conservatives”/Republicans who are promoting the idea that climate change is a hoax and voting against climate action.

The fossil fuel industry has another long-deployed tactic in politics, too — false balance and misleading “debates.” Regarding that topic, there is a new face that the conservatives are rallying around. Her name is Naomi Seibt and she is a 19-year-old German teen who has denounced “climate alarmism.” She says that climate consciousness is “a despicably anti-human ideology.” She has been called by numerous headlines as the “Anti-Greta.” However, she doesn’t dispute that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, like most Republicans seem to do. Her argument is that scientists have exaggerated their impact. (In actuality, there is strong evidence scientists have been overly conservative about the impacts, something that is perhaps inherent to their profession, where definitive proof is needed in order to make clear claims or forecasts.)

Seibt has been hired by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington and will be joining speakers including Donald Trump and Vice President Pence this year. Bringing the “Anti-Greta” to an extremely right-wing US political conference? Of course the oil and gas industry is going to pull such a tactic.

Greta Thunberg is a threat to the oil and gas industry. The industry pays certain legislators to vote in their favor. In order for those legislators to stay in power, they need to pander to their voter base. In order to do that, control needs to be established. What better way of establishing that control than by putting out propaganda that sounds good and has one or two facts mixed in but is inherently misleading or false? Facts such as, “yeah greenhouse emissions are real,” but then downplaying the scientists’ findings and saying, “it’s not that serious.”

The oil and gas companies know that greenhouse gas emissions are real and the industry knows that it is contributing to this. However, due to the amount of money these companies make, it doesn’t matter to them. In fact, this is why they are seducing our government to look the other way and vote in the interests of the industry, not the people. Although some of the major companies, such as BP and Shell, have invested in renewable energy, this is more of them hedging their bets — they are not closing down their core polluting business activities. They are doing it because that’s the general direction that society is heading, which they know well because they know the climate crisis is real and society’s response will grow as related catastrophes increase.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider