Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Is the Senate Energy Committee being handed to Big Oil?

A game of political musical chairs has set off a transition that will hand Big Oil the keys to the influential Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. What’s worse, the whole thing is being orchestrated by democratic leadership in an attempt to help Senator Landrieu (D-LA) with her upcoming re-election campaign.

As with most things these days, it all comes down to money.

Big Oil Senate Committee

Senator Landrieu, first elected in 1996, is expected to take over as Chair of the Energy Committee within the next week and has the distinction of having one of the very worst environmental voting records among Senate Democrats. This isn’t much of a surprise: the Senator has taken over $1.5 MILLION from the fossil fuel industry since she was first elected to office, averaging over $500,000 each election cycle.

Unfortunately, a look at the rest of the 22-person committee doesn’t provide much solace. In total, Senators on the committee have taken a combined $9.4 million in dirty energy money. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the committee has taken over $1.2 million in industry cash since 2002. With others like Joe Manchin (over $1 million in dirty energy money) and John Barrasso (over $800k) filling out the committee ranks, it’s clear the fossil fuel industry has spared no expense in targeting this committee in their unyielding attempts to corrupt our democracy.

(The above paragraph makes me hyperventilate slightly, so now’s a good chance to mention that Bernie Sanders is also on the committee, making sure there’s at least one voice of reason during hearings.)

This nightmare scenario came about after President Obama nominated Senator Baucus to become the new ambassador to China.  This set off a round of political transitions that has resulted in Senator Landrieu taking over as Chair of the Energy Committee.

The timing couldn’t be better for Landrieu who’s up for re-election in 2014, a close race Democrats see as vital in their bid to retain control of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Reid is giving Senator Landrieu star treatment to help her fundraise and court votes… and of course, the new position will make her an even more attractive candidate for massive amounts of dirty energy money in the months leading up to the election.

This type of decision is why Americans are fed up with Washington politics. In a bald-faced political move, the democratic leadership is ensuring one of Big Oil’s closest allies is in a prime position to serve their interests.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that there was a simple alternative: not giving Landrieu the keys to the committee. This would have broken with Senate Democrats’ seniority-based tradition, but it would have been a clear warning sign that if you’re willing to take millions from industry interests you won’t be placed in positions of power where you’re deciding how those same industries are regulated.

If we want to have any semblance of a functioning democracy, this is undoubtedly the stance our political leaders need to take. It’s time our elected officials work for the people who elected them, not the industries padding their wallets.

Don’t let big oil corrupt our democracy, take action here: http://priceofoil.org/action/

Comments (14)

  1. Alice Burkhart says:

    The fox is guarding the chicken coop, hopefully Mother Nature will take the fox’s home with a nice climate change flair and wake Ms. Fox up? Seriously, how stupid can these people get?

  2. Pamela Haun says:

    Conflict of interest, resign their Senate jobs, raise you hand if you own stock in any of these oil companies, check their record for voting on oil issues. It’s like have members of Monsanto on the BOD EPA making decision for all of us. Why are more people not protesting this bull?

  3. SALVATORE J. CENTO says:

    STOP BIG OIL NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. mary Mbuthia says:

    we must locally get involved in holding back the big oil , they have been making profits all along, never really passing that on to the consumers
    ENOUGH

  5. Dianne Jakowiczuk says:

    We’ve fiddled around long enough; now the planet is in true burn mode. We simply cannot add to the already-catastrophic situation that exists now. The canary in the coal mine is dead.

  6. George Davis says:

    Pick someone better.

  7. Steven Fetter says:

    Not just big oil, but big energy is hurting our enviorment & enabling global warming.

  8. Gail Lynch says:

    I want an explanation for this. I so sick of this crap. Who the heck am I to vote for if all of them are acting like unethical parasites? I am serious. WHO?

  9. I am sick of our elected officials lining their pockets while voting against the environment.

  10. ron rankin says:

    how do we stop them, vote them out it is too late , also if you do not live in their state you can not vote against them.

    Give me some Ideas

  11. Constance says:

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

  12. Shelley Kowalczyk says:

    we need to get the money out of the pockets of .the BIG CORP’s and back into the pockets of the people…This country is going to shit in a handbag due to all these money hungry,,power hungry idiots!!! We the people make them their profits but we also suffer due to the stingyness of these idiots…DOWN WITH BIG CORPS.!!!!!

  13. dee myers says:

    Money buys power – There’s no changing the balance in the direction we’re going. America’s poorest will remain there without much care or concern. What a sad country we are.

  14. Sheri Somerville says:

    I agree with Shelley Kowalczyk—

    we need to get the money out of the pockets of .the BIG CORP’s and back into the pockets of the people…This country is going to shit in a handbag due to all these money hungry,,power hungry idiots!!! We the people make them their profits but we also suffer due to the stingyness of these idiots…DOWN WITH BIG CORPS.!!!!!

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