How much money every Green New Deal sponsor gets from environmental and fossil fuel interests
Born as a vague proposal by the activist group Sunrise Movement, the Green New Deal was introduced in both houses of Congress as a first start to more detailed environmental policies on Thursday. Jointly introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the non-binding resolution aims to encourage the U.S. to commit to producing 100 percent clean energy in 10 years, invest in sustainable infrastructure, build high-speed rail, along with other progressive policies that are more indirectly related to the environment like promoting indigenous rights and providing quality healthcare.
The ambitious proposal has won the support and co-sponsorship of four current presidential candidates — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). According to reports, the bill originally had 62 co-sponsors in the House (plus two non-voting members) and nine, including the previous four mentioned, in the Senate. With so many big names behind the expansive resolution, how much do those sponsoring it receive from environmental groups?
Throughout their careers, the 62 voting House co-sponsors have taken nearly $4 million from environmental groups and around $2.5 million from oil and gas, coal and pro-resource development groups (referred to below as energy groups), according to data from The Center for Responsive Politics. Energy-related PACs and affiliates regularly contribute more than their environmental counterparts.
|Member||Environmental Contributions||Energy Industry Contributions|
Although she is the main force behind the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez received very few campaign contributions from environmental groups in her first election in 2018. No environmental group makes the list of her top 100 donors. She got just $2,683 from environmental groups and $791 from individuals in the energy industry.
Because environmental groups tend to be staunchly liberal, they don’t give as much to Democrats in safe districts which could explain why someone like Ocasio-Cortez didn’t receive many donations.
The main sponsor on the Senate side is Markey who has a long history as an environment-centric legislator. Markey’s top contributor in the 2013-2018 timeframe was the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which between its PAC and individuals contributed $215,921. Markey has received $418,591 from environmental groups in his career. He has also received the most outside support from environmental groups with around $1.5 million being spent on his behalf.
LCV issued its support of the resolution in a statement provided to The Center for Responsive Politics, saying “We support the Green New Deal resolution. We are thrilled to see so many members of Congress following through on the climate action that voters clearly said they wanted from their leaders on Election Day.”
Of the four senators who are running for president and co-sponsored the resolution, Warren has received the most from environmental groups, a total of $305,103.
Booker, Gillibrand and Harris had no environmental groups among their top 20 contributors. Gillibrand has received almost an equal amount from environmental groups and energy and natural resources industry throughout her career —- $147,523 from environmental sources and $144,406 from energy industry. In his career, Booker has received $128,714 from environmental groups compared to $36,226 from the energy industry.
Of the senators currently running for president, Harris has received the least from environmental groups in her career, just $71,096. She has also been in the Senate the shortest amount of time compared to the others. The number from the energy industry, in Harris’ case just oil and gas money, is also low — $29,188.
The other Senate co-sponsors are Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Merkley’s top contributor in the 2013-2018 cycle was the LCV with $89,212. He received $257,237 from environmental groups in his career and just $30,761 from the energy industry. His fellow senator from Oregon, Wyden, also had the LCV as one of his top contributors and received $150,454 in his career from environmental sources, but is the only Senate co-sponsor to get more — $295,987 — from mostly oil and gas sources.
Sanders received $133,254 from environmental groups in his career. He has received the least of the Senate co-sponsors from energy groups — only $13,280.
Interestingly, some of the senators that received the most from environmental groups in their careers — Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), etc. — aren’t co-sponsoring the legislation.
On the House side, the co-sponsor who received the most from environmental groups in their career was Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) who received $157,612, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. He has only received $18,000 from energy groups in his career. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has also received a significant amount of environmental money in her career — $113,265 compared to just $4,500 from energy groups. Also breaching $100,000 in career contributions is Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, with $105,177.
Several of the co-sponsors have received significantly more from natural resource groups than environmental. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) received only $9,250 from environmental groups and $146,008 from energy groups. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) got $105,750 from the energy industry compared to $46,611 from environmental. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) has received $104,449 from the energy sector and $53,454 from environmental in her career.
It should be noted that contributions don’t always dictate what policies a politician supports. Oftentimes the amount of contributions from various industries is determined by the district the politician represents.
The future of either resolution is difficult to predict due to staunch Republican opposition. Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed indifference to the proposal on Wednesday in a Politico interview calling it “a suggestion” and adding that “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”
Pelosi received $6,000 from environmental PACs during the 2018 midterms, while receiving $22,200 from energy utility company PACs. One of her top contributors was PG&E Corp, an electric company which provides natural gas service along with generating electricity from hydro and nuclear energy.
The Green New Deal will almost certainly run into strident opposition from a number of interest groups. The fossil fuel industry will likely oppose the desire for 100 percent clean energy production and more environmental regulations, the airplane industry won’t want to cede position for high-speed rail and large agriculture cooperatives might take issue with language in the resolution pushing for a more “sustainable” farming system. Some environmental groups that support nuclear energy, like Environmental Progress, are disappointed with the lack of inclusion of nuclear energy in the Green New Deal.
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