Senators Cashing in on Oil Money Push for Keystone XL Approval With New Bill

Remember the letter a group of Senators sent a couple weeks ago urging the President to approve the problematic Keystone XL pipeline?  We wrote about it at the time, and in so doing we discovered that the Senators who signed have received over 236% more in fossil fuel campaign contributions than the rest of the Senate.

This analysis didn’t come as a surprise to us — every single time a grouping of Senators or other Members of Congress have come together to push for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, those groups have followed the same pattern:

Senators who signed this letter have received – on average –340% MORE in campaign contributions from fossil fuel industry interests than those who had the sense to stay away.

 Those Representatives that signed the letter received roughly 250% more money from oil and gas interests compared to those Representatives who did not sign the letter.

The Senators who signed the pro-Keystone XL letter have received roughly 236% more in donations on average from fossil fuel interests than those that did not sign the letter.

The co-sponsors have, on average, received over $662,000 in fossil fuel-related campaign contributions in their careers.  That’s over 410% more than the average member of the House of Representatives.

Now we come to today’s news. Once again, a group of Senators has decided to push for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, this time with a bill spearheaded by Senators Hoeven and Baucus.  And, following the clear pattern set by their colleagues in recent months, the co-sponsors of this new bill have enjoyed massive contributions from the fossil fuel industry through their careers.

The facts, from our Dirty Energy Money database:

  • In total, the 14 Senators who have co-sponsored this bill have received nearly $10 MILLION in contributions from the fossil fuel industry, some $6.6 million of that from the oil industry alone.
  • On average, the 14 co-sponsors have received over $708,000 each from the fossil fuel industry in their career, over half of that from the oil industry.
  • Compared to the rest of the Senate, the co-sponsors of today’s pro-KeystoneXL bill have received 227% more in fossil fuel-related campaign contributions on average than their counterparts.

Consistency is sometimes a trait to be admired. But just once, we wish these Senators would break the trend and listen to the thousands upon thousands standing up against this pipeline, instead of the Big Oil benefactors lining their campaign war chests.

Afterall, as our recent analysis shows, this pipeline is not going to benefit US energy security — the oil the Keystone XL pipeline would transport would be largely destined for export.  As my colleague Steve Kretzmann said today in the Wall Street Journal: “If the national-interest determination is about figuring out what is going to make Valero the most money, then sure, maybe we should approve Keystone. But I don’t think that’s what the national-interest determination is supposed to be.”

These Senators are clearly looking at oil industry bottom lines in order to protect their campaign contributions, when they should be looking at what’s in the best interests of the public.

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