Oil Check Oregon

Oil and coal's $20 million campaign for influence in the Northwest

November 18th - Oil Check Northwest has just released a report on the flow of fossil fuel money into Oregon and Washington over the last 3 election cycles. This is the most comprehensive catalog of the industry's influence on our region.

The Northwest is set to make historic advancements for clean air and the environment. In 2016, a broad coalition of Oregon organizations is set to present a ballot initiative to simultaneously transition off coal and double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Governor Inslee has issued an historic executive order to regulate emissions through the Department of Ecology. A ballot initiative presented by an alliance of progressive organizations is set to add financial teeth to the Governor’s declaration by adding a provision to charge polluters for their emissions.

Needless to say, these reforms are vigorously opposed by the oil, coal, and gas industries that benefit from the status quo. 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.

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Key Findings

  • Between the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 election cycles, political spending in the region increased 22.5 percent.
  • Between the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 election cycles, political spending in Washington increased 29.8 percent.
  • Between the 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 election cycles, political spending in Oregon increased 13 percent.
  • Top spending lobbyist in both states: Western State Petroleum Association.
  • PAC funding was broad and diverse; 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.

You can read the full report here


Further report coverage and details:

Sightline Institute 11/23/15

Oregonian 11/24/15

KATU News 11/29/15

American Prospect 1/28/16


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