Tracking Political Contributions from Oil and Coal

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Sunflower Electric Cooperative's coal-fired power plant rises behind a 30-day-supply of coal in Holcomb, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Sunflower Electric Cooperative's coal-fired power plant rises behind a 30-day-supply of coal in Holcomb, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Many politicians get money from oil and coal companies – but some receive far more than others.

The website Dirty Energy Money has an interactive that allows users to look up which politicians receive money from oil companies and their affiliated political action committees. The site is a project of the advocacy group Oil Change International and pulls data from the Center for Responsive Politics and its website, OpenSecrets.org.

A few things are immediately clear from the site’s interactive: Republicans receive the most money from energy companies, but Democrats receive quite a bit as well. In the Senate, two thirds of the money the website tracks goes to Republicans, the other third to Democrats. In the House about 83 percent of contributions went to Republicans.

In the last two years, Speaker of the House John Boehner has received the most – over $800,000. And since 1999, two Texas Republicans — Senator John Cornyn, chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Representative Joe Barton, chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce — have each accepted more than 2 million dollars in contributions from the industry.

The website also tracks congressional votes on such bills as H. R. 6082, the self-explanatory “Congressional Replacement of President Obama’s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan,” which passed the House, largely along party lines. Users can view a particular politician’s voting record to judge whether or not he or she is answering to campaign funders. Speaker Boehner, the leading beneficiary of their campaign dollars, voted to help energy companies 90 percent of the time.

This week, Bill Moyers will be speaking with James Balog, the wildlife photographer and filmmaker who has risked his life at the top of the world to chronicle vanishing glaciers and sound the alarm on global warming. Balog’s work demonstrates that the climate is changing – Dirty Energy Money helps explain why.

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