At least 10 current and potential candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination won’t be losing much oil and gas money because of their support for an ambitious plan to wean the country from its dependence upon fossil fuels.
The nation’s 10 largest oil and gas companies and their employees have given the Democratic candidates barely more than $165,000 over the last six years for federal campaigns, according to a MapLight analysis.
Republicans have viewed the Green New Deal in stark terms, with one dark money organization describing it as “nothing more than the latest job-killing, socialist wish list from the radical left.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on Feb. 12 that he would schedule a vote on the Senate resolution to put the measure’s supporters on record.
At least one poll shows more than 80 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal, however, and the relatively tiny contributions from the 10 energy companies, which have a combined worth of almost $900 billion, indicate that the Democratic contenders are unlikely to suffer financially from a vote.
Even the biggest recipient of oil and gas money among potential and current candidates, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2018 re-election, has called the plan “the best proposal” for curbing the effects of climate change. O’Rourke received $141,903, more than 85 percent of the total amount given by the major energy companies to the 10 prospective and current candidates.
Six of the seven senators expected to battle for the nomination are cosponsors of the resolution, unveiled on Feb. 7 by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio lawmaker who took $6,300 from the energy companies, is the only prospective candidate who hasn’t signed on to cosponsor the nonbinding measure, which would dramatically alter the shape of the $20 trillion U.S. economy.
Two declared candidates — Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland — received no money from the major oil companies during the six-year period. Two other candidates reported receiving three-figure gifts. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii took $627 in oil and gas money. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent reported donations of $150 from a Chevron employee in Houston.
Four cosponsors of the Green New Deal resolution reported four-figure sums from the major energy company employees; all have taken positions that are highly unpopular with the nation’s $2 trillion oil and gas industry:
- Sen. Kamala Harris, a former California attorney general who subpoenaed oil companies in 2016 over high gas prices, reported donations totaling $5,783
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who unsuccessfully battled in 2015 to keep a crude oil export ban in place, took $5,276 from oil and gas employees
- Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who co-sponsored legislation to ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, received $4,100 from the energy companies
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has endorsed measures that would ban new oil and gas drilling on federal lands, got $1,070
Methodology:The MapLight analysis is based upon data from the Federal Election Commission for the 2013-18 election cycles. The 10 largest oil and gas companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum, Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy, Halliburton, and Pioneer Natural Resources) were determined by the NASDAQ market capitalization as of Feb. 12, 2019. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro were omitted from the analysis; neither has run a federal campaign during the last six years.