Interest Groups: Oil and Gas

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Just how much power do interest groups have on policy? The first step of this is understanding how interest groups get involved and whom they get involved with. I want to just look at the amount of money interest groups spend and who gets the money. Let us start with oil and gas industry.

Since 1990, the oil and gas industry has donated 238.7 million dollars to political figures, with 75% of those funds going to republicans. Just from that first figure, I think we can gain a decent idea of why republicans cater toward oil more than other forms of energy. I do not want to assert that it is the only reason, because renewables have not yet proven their large scale competitiveness to oil and gas. However, I do think that had we been for consistent in our development of renewable energy, that we would have a more advanced market than we do today. Quick rant; I do not believe that America, the land of innovation, would not be capable of answering to the question of finding solutions had we provided the necessary resources over the past decades. Out of these contributions, who was the largest contributor in the 2013-2014 period? Koch Industries.  The Koch brothers are oil billionaires, that are very active in many aspects of politics, and are associated with many think tanks and organizations, i.e funding. Now I want to state now, that I am not inferring a value judgement and I think that Koch Industries provides value to the world and many of the organizations they are associated with also provide significant value. I just want us to be aware of how the political process looks. Now interesting to also point out, is that the even President Obama received more than $800,000 dollars from Koch Industries during his initial campaign for president. So either way, it is safe to say the “money talks” in Washington, and that is bipartisan.

What about lobbying for this industry? Well the total amount during 2013 was $144,682,462, with the top three contributors being Exxon, Chevron, and Koch, with more than 35 million between them. Who are the top recipients of the money? John Cornyn, Senator from Texas (R) was the top recipient. What may be a surprise is the 3rd leading recipient is a Democrat, Mary Landrieu. In total, Republicans received 87% of the funding with the Democrats getting the other 13%. But interesting enough, there are more Democrats that receive funding from this industry that Republicans in the Senate, but the Republicans get almost double the amount of funds on average.

I say again, do not just go to thinking negatively of this. Wait until we look at the role of the alternative energy and their partisan funding. Also, remember that oil and gas and companies like Koch have been responsible for significant amounts of growth and economic development that has been available because of affordable energy that comes from oil and gas sources. So come back to check out how the alternative energy industry compares to this.



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