Well, here we are again.  Only mere days after the biggest rally and march in support of climate action and against the Keystone XL pipeline in US history, another letter has been sent by a group of Senators calling for approval of the troublesome (to say the least) Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, this time spear-headed by Senators Baucus and Hoeven. And once again it’s clear there’s dirty energy money behind it.

At this point, you likely know the drill. Every election cycle, Big Oil pays into campaigns heftily in order to try to curry favors and influence in Washington, and the Senate is not immune to this fact.  Unfortunately the figures surrounding those Senators who have signed this latest letter once again show that these investments pay dividends in the halls of Congress.

Let’s look at the numbers, drawn from our Dirty Energy Money database:

  • On average, Senators who signed the latest pro-KXL letter have received $680,176 from dirty energy companies (oil, gas and coal) in their careers since 1999.
  • In total, the Senators signing the letter have received a whopping $13,603,515 in dirty energy money since 1999.
  • Meanwhile, Senators who had the sense to not sign this pro-Keystone XL letter only average $288,337 in contributions from dirty energy money companies in the same time period.

In other words, 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.

As this is a (tar sands) oil pipeline, after all, it also makes sense to dig deeper and look at Big Oil contributions in isolation.  Unfortunately, looking at these contributions only makes the picture even clearer.

  • On average, those Senators who signed the latest letter have received roughly $434,393 from oil interests in their careers since 1999.
  • Meanwhile, Senators who had the sense to stay off the pro-Keystone XL letter only average $165,968 in lifetime contributions from oil interests.

That amounts to an impressive 262% more in contributions from oil companies to those Senators supporting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline than those that did not sign the letter.

No matter how you look at it, it’s clear whose interests these Senators are looking out for in sending letters to the Obama Administration in support of a dangerous pipeline that would threaten our communities and climate in order to send dirty oil overseas.

Secretary Kerry spent a career in the Senate pushing for policies that address climate change and protect the environment. He must stand firm in those principles by rejecting the Keystone XL, and listen to the people and not Big Oil.


Note: The figures used, taken from Oil Change International’s Dirty Energy Money database, include contribution amounts for currently sitting Senators in the 113th Congress. These contribution totals are likely lower than reality, as data for some freshman Senators is not yet fully available.


  • No XL Pipeline! Keep our air quality from getting worse and protect our comunities and wildlife!

  • Say no to the pipeline. This earth needs to be protected from all of this dirty business!

  • A smart investor would be looking at the alternative energy market that is making progress in leaps and bounds. A fool will follow dirty oil.

  • Where is the list of the Senators signing this letter? We need to know so that their constituents can let them know that they are on notice. I haven’t been able to find one anywhere. Is it a secret?

  • The list of Senators signing the bill is linked above (and in this comment), but for your convenience here is the description with the full list:

    The Hoeven-Baucus letter was signed by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kay Hagan (D- N.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.)

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