Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at Oil Check Northwest and is republished here with the editor’s permission.
Oil Check Northwest released a report just last week on the flow of fossil fuel money into Oregon and Washington over the last 3 election cycles—the most comprehensive catalog to date of the industry’s influence on our region.
The Pacific Northwest is set to make historic advancements for clean air and the environment. In 2016, a broad coalition of Oregon organizations will present a ballot initiative to simultaneously transition off coal and double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Governor Inslee has issued a historic executive order to regulate climate-warming pollution through the Department of Ecology. A ballot initiative presented by an alliance of progressive organizations would add financial teeth to the Governor’s declaration by adding a provision to charge polluters for their emissions.
Needless to say, the oil, coal, and gas industries that benefit from the status quo vigorously oppose these reforms. Over the last three election cycles, major extractors, distributors, and refiners of fossil fuels have poured $20.1 million into both states to influence Northwest politics: $7.9 million in Oregon and $12.3 million in Washington.
Through a web of direct donations, PAC contributions, and lobbying expenditures, fossil fuel interests have sought to block, delay, and roll back popular protections for clean air and the environment.
This report breaks down these figures year-to-year and showcases which companies are buying the most influence, which politicians have taken the most, and where this money is undermining clean air and environmental goals.
- Between the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 election cycles, political spending
- in the region as a whole increased 22.5 percent.
- in Washington increased 29.8 percent.
- in Oregon increased 13 percent.
- The top-spending lobbyist in both states was the Western State Petroleum Association.
- PAC funding was broad and diverse, and funding went far beyond energy sector policy. Several top-earning PACs influenced taxation, state industry, and political parties.
- Overall, legislators who took the most funding were also the most ardent opponents of clean energy policy in each state.