Republican members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee have taken nearly $8.8M from oil and gas industries, including over $1.4M during the 2020 cycle alone

ENR Republicans motivated by their special interests – notably Barrasso and Daines – launched a smear campaign against Haaland to protect Big Oil 

Read the report

 Washington, D.C. – Today, Accountable Senate War Room released a new report that exposes the motivation behind the attacks against Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland. In total, Senate Republicans on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) have taken nearly $8.8 million in oil and gas donations. Despite broad bipartisan support for Haaland’s nomination, oil-tied Senate Republicans have mounted a smear campaign against her in an attempt to obstruct Biden’s environmental agenda and appease the very polluters that bankroll their campaigns. 

Ranking Member John Barrasso took nearly $20,000 from Big Oil during the last quarter of 2020, when he was still expected to chair the ENR Committee in a Republican-controlled Senate. This represented nearly one-third of the total total 2020 cycle contributions he received from the industry. Barrasso then went on to tout that “[Biden’s] nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet,” and promised that confirmations wouldn’t be a “garden party” in an apparent signal to his special interest allies that he would continue protecting their bottom line.

Similarly, Senator Steve Daines of Montana has been on his soapbox for weeks, stating he would oppose Haaland’s nomination because he believes she would be bad for oil, gas, and coal. This opposition shouldn’t come as a shock: the senator has taken nearly $1.2 million from Big Oil over the course of his career. It’s clear that Daines has and will continue to put the polluters that donate to his political campaigns before the people he was elected to represent. 

GOP shilling for Big Oil doesn’t stop there. Outside of the Haaland mudslinging, these Senate Republicans moonlight as speakers for oil and gas lobbying groups like Independent Petroleum Association of America and National Ocean Industries Association. And they’re attempting to thwart Biden’s environmental agenda writ large by backing legislation to block the administration from pausing new leases for oil and gas drilling. 

“It’s not difficult to see why Senate Republicans are attacking Rep. Haaland if you follow the money,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “These senators are bankrolled by the oil and gas industry, and in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, they have fought to allow their special-interest donors to ravage public lands while shortchanging taxpayers. Haaland will prioritize protecting the environment and our public lands, and that has Republican senators and their Big Oil donors shaking in their boots.”

Below are some highlights from Accountable Senate War Room’s report:

  • 10 GOP members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee collectively took nearly $8.8 million from the oil and gas industries, including over $1.4 million during the 2020 cycle.

  • Ranking Member John Barrasso took nearly one-third of his total 2020 oil and gas industry PAC contributions during the last quarter of 2020 as he was poised to become chair of ENR, then pledged to stall Biden environmental nominees.

    • 2019-2020: Barrasso Took $68,137 Total From Oil And Gas Industry. [Center for Responsive Politics, Oil & Gas, accessed 2/16/21]
    • Nov. 2020: Barrasso Was Poised To Be Chair Of ENR Committee If Republicans Maintained Senate Control. “Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Wednesday he intends to assume the top spot on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress, a shift with cascading repercussions on energy, environment and transportation issues.” [Roll Call, 11/18/20]
  • Senate ENR committee member Steve Daines explicitly indicated he would block Haaland for being unfriendly to oil and gas.

    • Daines: “I’m Deeply Concerned With [Haaland’s] … Support For The Green New Deal And President Biden’s Oil And Gas Moratorium, As Well As Her Opposition To The Keystone XL Pipeline.” [Office of Senator Steven Daines, 2/5/21]
    •  Daines: “Unless My Concerns Are Addressed, I Will Block Her Confirmation.” [Office of Senator Steven Daines, 2/5/21]
  • Murkowski and eight other GOP Senators on the ENR Committee introduced a total of at least 34 amendments to undercut Biden’s environmental agenda.

    • Budget Reconciliation Process Was Being Used As Vehicle For Biden’s COVID-19 Relief Plan. “The Senate approved a budget bill early Friday that paves the way for passage of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote on the measure that will be key to enacting Biden’s first major legislative initiative. Passage of the budget bill by a 51-to-50 vote came just after 5:30 a.m. Friday, after an all-night Senate session during which senators plowed through dozens of amendments in a chaotic process known as a ‘vote-a-rama.’ Democrats cheered on progress to address the pandemic, while Republicans complained of partisanship and excessive spending.” [Washington Post, 2/8/21]
  • On Inauguration Day, Daines announced bills to undercut Biden’s executive actions halting the Keystone XL pipeline and rejoining the Paris Climate Accords; four other ENR members were original cosponsors.

    • January 20, 2021: Senator Steve Daines Introduced Bill To “Authorize The Continued Construction of The Keystone XL Pipeline Following President Biden’s Decision To Revoke The Cross-Border Operation Permit.” “U.S. Senator Steve Daines will introduce legislation to authorize the continued construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline following President Biden’s decision to revoke the cross-border operation permit.” [Office of Steven Daines, 1/20/21]
    • Barrasso, Hoeven, Marshall, And Risch Were Among Original Co-Sponsors. “Daines will introduce the legislation with Senators Crapo (Idaho), Risch (Idaho), Barrasso (Wyo.), Marshall (Kan.), Moran (Kan.), Inhofe (Okla.), and Hoeven (N.D.). Several other western senators are expected to sign on.” [Office of Steven Daines, 1/20/21]


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