GOP Energy Chair Received Last-Minute Big Oil Donations After Hinting Oil Subsidies Could End

Big Oil subsidies have maintained a relatively low profile during fiscal showdown negotiations. But there is some chance the oil industry’s $4 billion annual subsidies could be on the chopping block in a deal. The first indication Republicans may possibly budge, after repeatedly blocking votes on the issue, came late in the election when House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “Let’s look at the oil and gas subsidies, let’s take them away. Let’s let them compete just like everyone else at the same level.”

Like many of his GOP colleagues, the oil and gas industry is one of Upton’s top industry donors. He has received nearly $450,000 from the oil and gas industry over his career in the House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Interestingly, when Upton said he would look at oil subsidies, Big Oil sent last-minute contributions to the candidate. New campaign filings show that since Upton made his comment early in October, he received several new donations from oil companies:

ExxonMobil PAC gave $5,000 on 10/23, bringing its total for Upton this cycle to $10,000.
Valero Energy gave $5,000 on 10/24.
Petroleum Marketers Association of Americas gave $4,000 on 11/5.
Marathon Oil COO Dave E. Roberts gave $2,500 on 10/29.
ConocoPhillips PAC gave $1,000 on 11/5, bringing its cycle total to $8,000.

Upton’s leadership PAC raised another $47,000 from the oil and gas industry this cycle, drawing $25,000 from Valero Energy and $10,000 from Koch Industries, among other oil and gas companies. Overall, he raised $4 million and spent more than $4.5 million to defeat his challenger Mike O’Brien.

There are a few clues indicating how seriously to take Upton on ending oil subsidies: Post-election, Upton hired America’s Natural Gas Alliance lobbyist Tom Hassenboehler as a senior aide, who has also served as counsel for the Senate’s infamous climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK). And polluter groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also campaigned on Upton’s behalf, touting his record of protecting Big Oil and its tax breaks.

6 Responses to GOP Energy Chair Received Last-Minute Big Oil Donations After Hinting Oil Subsidies Could End

  1. Leif says:

    Perhaps BIG OIL is just trying to show support for Senator Upton’s newly enlightened stance.


  2. prokaryotes says:

    Perhaps Upton wants us to pay more? Or maybe someone should sue him for crimes against humanity!

  3. Anne says:

    This is too easy a way to make a few bucks. Makes me wish there was a way to spoof the fossil fools by making idle threats then channeling all the bribes political compaign donations into efforts to get more “clean energy” candidates in office. If only.

  4. Atlas Spanked says:

    The truly absurd thing is that these national-level GOPer legislators sell themselves, the nation, the environment, and their votes, cheaper than most high-end hookers. Five grand in bribes to maintain $4 billion in subsidies? That’s not just crooked, it’s stupid and crooked.

  5. Ozonator says:

    “Valero Energy gave $5,000 on 10/24” – 
cheaper than paying for workers comp

    “Worker dies after hazmat incident at Valero Memphis refinery”; By Scott Carroll, Wayne Risher;, 12/3/12).

    My condolences for the bravery it takes to work in the toxic chemical industry and carry the toxics home like a roach motel.

  6. Greg says:

    It’s disconcerting to know that our elected officials can be bought for a few thousand dollars until you realize where the money comes from, how it adds up, how a few thousand dollars can be the difference in media spends to perpetuate lies about climate science, and where these elected officials are likely to find post-elected office employment ala Jim DeMint and his resignation to make 10 times more money at the Heritage Foundation. Look for Upton in the not too distant future at Exxon/Mobile, Marathon, or ConocoPhillips.