The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings

Twenty-two senators wrote a letter to the president when he was said to be on the fence about backing out. They received more than $10m from oil, gas and coal companies the past three election cycles

James Inhofe: climate change’s biggest enemy in the Senate, and the co-author of the letter. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 in New York and  in Washington-Thursday 1 June 2017

A withdrawal by Donald Trump from the Paris climate accord would go down as a hallmark of his presidency. It would be unilateral, reckless and splashy – trademark Trump. The president has said he will announce his decision at 3pm ET (8pm BST) on Thursday.

But while Trump has often stood on a range of issues as a maverick outlier from mainstream Republican politics, on climate change he is at the centre of the party’s orthodoxy. Trump’s disbelief in climate change and imminent decision on whether to support the Paris agreement reflects an area of unusual agreement between the president and elected Republicans, whose track record of climate change denialism is plain and long.

Unmissable behind the elected Republicans stand other interests: the oil, gas and coal industries, which together are some of the most influential donors to Republican candidates.

The big-money supporters got a return on their investment last week, when 22 Republican senators whose campaigns have collected more than $10m in oil, gas and coal money since 2012 sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw from the Paris deal.

Trump had been said to be on the fence about the deal. Members of his inner circle, including his daughter, were reported to favor staying in.

“We strongly encourage you to make a clean break from the Paris Agreement,” read the letter, drafted by Wyoming’s John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and public works, and Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, a longtime climate change denier and senior member of that committee.

The letter argued that the Paris deal threatened Trump’s efforts to rescind the clean power plan, an Obama-era set of regulations and guidelines that include emissions caps and other rules deemed onerous by the fossil fuel industries.

It was not as if Trump wanted for advisers urging him to withdraw from the Paris deal even before the letter was sent. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt and chief strategist Stephen Bannon urged withdrawal, while energy secretary Rick Perry favored renegotiation.
Public opposition to the deal from almost two dozen senators just as the president prepared to make his decision, however, demonstrated the extent to which the opponents of the Paris deal were organized, ready to strike and to offer important political cover if Trump pulls the US out of the historic global deal.

Donations from oil, gas and coal interests to the signatories of the letter are Open Secrets that seemed ready for a new review. A Guardian survey of Federal Elections Commission data organized by the Center for Responsive Politics found that the industries gave a total of $10,694,284 to the 22 senators over the past three election cycles.

Visible donations to Republicans from those industries exceeded donations to Democrats in the 2016 election cycle by a ratio of 15-to-1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And that does not include so-called dark money passed from oil interests such as Koch industries to general slush funds to re-elect Republicans such as the Senate leadership fund.

At least $90m in untraceable money has been funneled to Republican candidates from oil, gas and coal interests in the past three election cycles, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Here is a breakdown for the past three election cycles (2012, 2014 and 2016).

James Inhofe, Oklahoma

Oil & gas: $465,950
Coal: $63,600
Total: $529,550

John Barrasso, Wyoming

Oil & gas: $458,466
Coal: $127,356
Total: $585,822

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky

Oil & gas: $1,180,384
Coal: $361,700
Total: $1,542,084

John Cornyn, Texas

Oil & gas: $1,101,456
Coal: $33,050
Total: $1,134,506

Roy Blunt, Missouri

Oil & gas: $353,864
Coal: $96,000
Total: $449,864

Roger Wicker, Mississippi

Oil & gas: $198,816
Coal: $25,376
Total: $224,192

Michael Enzi, Wyoming

Oil & gas: $211,083
Coal: $63,300
Total: $274,383

Mike Crapo, Idaho

Oil & gas: $110,250
Coal: $26,756
Total: $137,006

Jim Risch, Idaho

Oil & gas: $123,850
Coal: $25,680
Total: $149,530

Thad Cochran, Mississippi

Oil & gas: $276,905
Coal: $15,000
Total: $291,905

Mike Rounds, South Dakota

Oil & gas: $201,900
Coal: none
Total: $201,900

Rand Paul, Kentucky

Oil & gas: $170,215
Coal: $82,571
Total: $252,786

John Boozman, Arkansas

Oil & gas: $147,930
Coal: $2,000
Total: $149,930

Richard Shelby, Alabama

Oil & gas: $60,150
Coal: $2,500
Total: $62,650

Luther Strange, Alabama

(Appointed in 2017, running in 2017 special election)
Total: NA

Orrin Hatch, Utah

Oil & gas: $446,250
Coal: $25,000
Total: $471,250

Mike Lee, Utah

Oil & gas: $231,520
Coal: $21,895
Total: $253,415

Ted Cruz, Texas

Oil & gas: $2,465,910
Coal: $103,900
Total: $2,569,810

David Perdue, Georgia

Oil & gas: $184,250
Coal: $0
Total: $184,250

Thom Tillis, North Carolina

Oil & gas: $263,400
Coal: $0
Total: $263,400

Tim Scott, South Carolina

Oil & gas: $490,076
Coal: $58,200
Total: $548,276

Pat Roberts, Kansas

Oil & gas: $388,950
Coal: $28,825
Total: $417,775

Sum total for all 22 Republican signatories: $10,694,284

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