Watchdog Group Says Fracking Contributions to Congress Are Up to $6.9 Million
Washington, D.C. —Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report detailing how congressional candidates are benefitting from companies operating hydraulically fractured wells and trade associations supporting the fracking industry.
In the new report, Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress, CREW — utilizing federal campaign contribution data tracked by MapLight — found contributions from the industry to House and Senate candidates from districts and states home to fracking activity rose by 231 percent between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles, from approximately $2.1 million to $6.9 million. In contrast, industry contributions to candidates from nonfracking districts rose by 131 percent, from approximately $2.2 million to $5.1 million, over the same time period.
“Like many industries under increasing scrutiny, the fracking industry has responded by ratcheting up campaign donations to help make new friends in Congress,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “As CREW’s report shows, the fracking boom isn’t just good for the industry, but also for congressional candidates in fracking districts.”
The steady increases in federal campaign contributions from the fracking industry correlate with the intensifying debate over whether the federal government should have more oversight of the industry. For example, the biggest increase in industry contributions — nearly 41 percent between the 2010 and 2012 election cycles — came at a time when Congress was actively debating fracking.
The top 10 recipients of fracking industry contributions are a mix of strong industry supporters and Republican leadership. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, received the most contributions, raking in $509,447 between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles — over $100,000 more than the next closest recipient, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who received $384,700. While serving as chairman of the committee, Rep. Barton sponsored the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Overall, nearly 80 percent of fracking industry contributions went to Republican congressional candidates.
“With all of the controversy over fracking, is it any surprise Rep. Barton’s actions made him the industry’s golden boy?” continued Sloan. “Unfortunately, money — not careful analysis — shapes the debate in Washington. With the environmental threats posed by fracking, it is essential the public understand the monetary influence the industry has on congressional candidates.”
The only Ohioan on the Top 10 list was House Speaker John Boehner at No. 5 with $314,700.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org.