A series of articles written by David Moore and published by Sludge in November and December of 2021 reported that at least 100 Representatives and 28 Senators have financial interests in the fossil fuel industry. Of these members of Congress, Moore reported, 74 are Republicans, 59 are Democrats, and one is an Independent. In both the House and the Senate, more Republicans than Democrats are invested in the fossil fuel industry, and the ten most heavily-invested House members are all Republicans. However, the first and third most-invested Senators, Joe Manchin (WV), who owns up to $5.5 million worth of fossil fuel industry assets, and John Hickenlooper (CO) who owns up to $1 million, are both Democrats. Additionally, Senate Democrats own up to $8,604,000 in fossil fuel assets, more than double the Senate Republican’s $3,994,126 in fossil fuel assets.
Aside from Senator Manchin, and Representative Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), who owns up to $5.2 million worth of stock in oil and gas pipelines, many of the other most invested Congress leaders are Texas Republicans, including Representative Van Taylor, who owns up to $12.4 million worth of fossil fuel assets.
Besides directly owning stock or industry assets, members of Congress also profit from the fossil fuel industry in other ways. For example, the household of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) received at least $938,987 from the fossil fuel industry in 2019 and 2020 through her husband’s employment as a consultant for Terra Energy Partners, an oil and gas company that drills on federal lands. As Julia Rock and Andrew Perez noted, in an article published by Jacobin, Boebert initially failed to report her husband’s income as a fossil fuel consultant on her 2019 congressional financial disclosure forms.
Many of these congressional leaders hold seats on influential energy-related committees. In the Senate, Manchin is chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Tina Smith (D-MN) chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, Tom Carper (D-DE) is chair of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) is the ranking member on the Environment Subcommittee on Regulatory Oversight, and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Haggerty (R-TN) both serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, to name some of the most prominent Senators.
In the House, a short list of members serving on influential committees includes Boebert, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, and Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Kelly owns up to $10.6 million in fossil fuel assets, including hundreds of oil and gas wells. Nine of the 22 Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are invested in the fossil fuel industry, along with Democrats, including Senior Whip Debbie Dingell of Michigan.
As Project Censored has previously reported, these individuals’ financial interests as investors conflict with their responsibilities as elected representatives, especially because of the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving the current climate crisis. As more recent reports note, Senator Manchin cut the Clean Electricity Performance Program, a system which would phase out coal, from President Biden’s climate bill, and Representative Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) founded the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus, while delaying the passage of the Democrat’s budget bill when it included a clean energy standard.
The fossil fuel industry is deeply entrenched in Washington, lobbying to influence policy. In 2021, the oil and gas industries spent $115.4 million on lobbying, according to Open Secrets. During the 2020 election cycle, the fossil fuel industry gave more than $40 million to Congressional candidates, including $8.8 million to Democrats and $30.8 million to Republicans, according to Open Secrets.
As of January 4, 2022, no corporate outlets appear to have covered the extent to which members of Congress are financially invested in the fossil fuel industry. Sludge ran a similar analysis of Congressional fossil-fuel industry investments in 2020; it also garnered no corporate coverage.
David Moore, “Senators Cling to Fossil Fuel Stocks as World Heats Up,” Sludge, November 5, 2021.
David Moore, “GOP Rep Picks up Millions in Pipeline Stock,” Sludge, December 10, 2021.
David Moore, “At Least 100 House Members Are Invested in Fossil Fuels,” Sludge, December 29, 2021.
Julia Rock and Andrew Perez, “Lauren Boebert’s Anti-Climate Legislation Is a Self-Enrichment Scheme,” Jacobin, September 13, 2021.
Student Researcher: Annie Koruga (Ohlone College)
Faculty Advisor: Robin Takahashi (Ohlone College)