NWF: Senate Democrats Preparing To Cave In To Big Oil?

More Energy PAC Money Now Flows To Democrats Than To GOP

06-07-2010 // Miles Grant
Smoke stacks at sunset

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on Sunday that Senate Democrats would likely leave carbon pollution limits out of an upcoming energy bill, abandoning a cornerstone of President Obama’s energy plan that has already passed the House. The Senate strategy, Schumer said, would be to allow Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to offer his American Power Act as an amendment to a weaker energy bill, which would be a clear signal that Kerry’s measure is considered expendable by Senate Democratic leaders and the White House.

If Senate Democrats are preparing to cave in to Big Oil, then they haven’t been paying attention to the lessons of the BP disaster. Real energy reform must hold corporations accountable for their carbon pollution in order for America to break our dependency on oil and turn the corner toward a clean energy future,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation. “The House took on Big Oil when they passed legislation last year, and president Obama has said the Senate must take on the oil companies once more and insist on pollution limits that make clean energy profitable. We need a Senate clean energy plan that has substance, not just sound bites.”

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Senator Kerry’s “American Power Act would reduce US oil imports by 33 to 40 percent below current levels” by 2030. Oil companies worked furiously and spent tens of millions of dollars to kill a similar measure that passed the House in June 2009.

“Why are Senate Democrats having a hard time committing themselves to fight for real energy reform? They’re talking about backup plans when they haven’t even tried,” said Jeremy Symons. “Part of the problem is that some Senate Democrats have deep ties to energy corporations. For the first time, energy companies are giving more PAC money to Democrats than Republicans.”

Energy companies have given $7.5 million to Democrats compared to $7.3 million to the GOP in PAC contributions since the last election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Energy companies have historically given about 75 percent of their PAC money to Republicans. The Washington Post recently reported that a top energy industry lobbyist has bundled together more than $600,000 of campaign contributions for congressional Democrats.

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