Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

The Billion Dollar Problem Blocking Climate Action

You’ve likely heard of the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the carbon cycle. High school took care of that. But one cycle seldom discussed is the Dirty Energy Money Cycle – and it’s threatening to dismantle our democracy and destabilize our climate at the same time.

If that sounds rather dire, well, that’s because it is. In the last congressional session alone (the 113th Congress), the oil, gas, and coal industry gave congress members $42 million in direct campaign contributions. Not only that, but the fossil fuel industry also spent a staggering $308 million on lobbying efforts.

Over the past decade, companies like Koch Industries, ExxonMobile, and Chevron have given millions to our elected officials. Congress as a whole has taken $173 million in campaign contributions over the past 10 years from the fossil fuel industry – and that number continues to grow.

All told, combining lobbying dollars and campaign contributions, the fossil fuel industry has spent over $1.7 BILLION trying to get their way over the past decade.¹

What does the fossil fuel industry get in return? Well, in addition to a lack of robust climate regulations, they get back TENS OF BILLIONS in subsidies.

In 2013 and 2014, the fossil fuel industry in the US got, on average, $20.9 billion each year to help them with production and $6.7 billion to explore for more (unburnable) oil, gas, and coal.

return-on-investment-dem-2016For every dollar the fossil fuel industry puts into campaign contributions and lobbying efforts, they get $119 back in the form of fossil fuel subsidies. That’s an 11,900% return on investment.

It’s absolutely unconscionable that, in 2016, the federal government is accepting billions from and giving tens of billions to the most profitable – and one of the most deadly – industries on the planet.

The good news is people from around the country are taking action to reclaim our democracy from the corporate interests that have hijacked it. Just yesterday, over 400 people were arrested on the steps of the Capitol Building as a part of Democracy Spring – and there are many more planning to follow their lead throughout the week.

It’s going to take sustained effort to fix our democracy and end the giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, but it’s work that needs to be done.

Dive into the numbers with our new factsheet on dirty energy money and fossil fuel subsidies.


¹Calculation based on aggregate fossil fuel industry lobbying and campaign contribution totals from dirtyenergymoney.com and opensecrets.org 

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