Eight of the twelve members of the newly-named Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction have voted in the last two years to allow oil companies to keep more than $4 billion annually in taxpayer subsidies in place. All six Republicans have consistently voted to preserve oil industry handouts.

Oil industry lobbyists have made maintaining these handouts a top priority.  The American Petroleum Institute announced earlier this year that it would for the first time begin directly donating to candidates, adding to the more than $13.6 million the oil industry gave to Members of Congress during the last election cycle.

To reveal the influence of oil industry money on the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, Oil Change International analyzed campaign finance data from the Center for Responsive Politics and discovered the following key facts:

  • The six Republicans received $1,433,584 in oil and gas industry campaign contributions over their careers.  More than half of that money – $791,474 – was donated in just the 2010 election cycle.
  • Overall, the 12 members have received $2,147,533 from Big Oil during their careers.

This year, Rep. Upton, chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, has repeatedly tried to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency and voted six times to keep subsidies in place for the oil and gas industry donors that have given him more than $207,000 in campaign contributions over the years.  Allied coal and utility interests have given Rep. Upton an additional $300,000 during his career.

The top U.S. oil companies reported $73 billion in profits in just the first six months of this year, so they can afford to live without these handouts. Since the committee has been tasked with finding a “balanced” approach to reduce our deficit, these subsidies should be one of the first things on the chopping block.

Published jointly by Oil Change International and Public Campaign.

Additional background on subsidy removal can be found in this Oil Change International factsheet (pdf).  Oil Change International and Public Campaign are founding members of the Dirty Energy Money coalition.