Nearly a quarter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) current personal wealth is made up of direct investments in fossil fuels, an unusually high amount for an elected official.
The Republican presidential candidate holds up to $850,000 worth of stock in six oil- and gas-related companies, which make up anywhere from 15 to 23 percent of his total personal assets, according to Cruz’s financial disclosure forms. That’s an unusually high percentage for a member of Congress, according to one professor who studies lawmakers’ personal wealth and how it relates to public policy.
“That’s definitely an above-average amount of assets in the oil and gas industry compared to other members of Congress,” said Christian R. Grose, an associate professor of political science at the University of Southern California. Grose analyzed the fossil fuel investments in Cruz’s financial disclosure forms for ThinkProgress.
According to an analysis of Cruz’s forms, he holds anywhere from $365,006 to $850,000 in energy and oil stocks. Cruz’s total assets could be anywhere from $1.6 million to $4.3 million, excluding a large campaign loan valued anywhere from $500,001 to $1 million. According to Grose’s calculations, that means fossil fuel investments make up anywhere from 15.8 to 22.7 percent of Cruz’s total assets.
In one sense, Cruz’s oil and gas investments are unsurprising. Along with being an unabashed fossil fuel supporter, he is a Republican from Texas, so his personal investments are in the interest of his constituents.
“It’s not just ‘Oh, he’s owning these things, so that’s why he would support the oil and gas industry,” Grose said.
At the same time, Grose’s research has shown that legislators’ personal financial interests are likely to impact their decision-making. Along with his graduate student Jordan C. Peterson, Grose has found that public officials are more likely to support financial and housing market deregulation if they had a personal stake in the financial and housing markets.
Though Grose’s research doesn’t consider fossil fuel investments specifically, he theorized that the effect may be similar. “His own personal financial well-being rests on how well the energy sector is doing,” he said. “So any regulation that could hurt that sector would be detrimental to his bottom line.”
Fossil fuel industry players also contribute a significant amount of money to Cruz’s political career. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry has been Cruz’s biggest corporate financial supporter since he began campaigning for the 2012 Senate race in Texas.
Cruz has historically supported policies that grow the oil and gas sector, and has opposed policies that seek to grow renewable energy. Just last week in Iowa, Cruz said he would not support the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires a certain amount of corn-based ethanol to be blended into U.S. gasoline. The policy is popular among Iowans because of the state’s farm-based economy, and many Republicans have expressed support for it.
In the Senate, Cruz has pushed to gut environmental regulations that impact the oil and gas sector. His proposed American Energy Renaissance Act would limit the Clean Air Act so governments are not able to regulate pollution from carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride. His bill also includes provisions to approve the Keystone XL pipeline; to increase drilling on public lands like national parks and forests; to prevent federal regulation of fracking; and to end the ban on crude oil exports.
Cruz also rejects the science that says humans cause climate change, calling climate scientists “the equivalent of the flat-Earthers” while comparing himself to Galileo for denying the data. His rejection of climate science is one reason why he does not support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas and oil production is the second-biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gases, according to the EPA.
Though a comparatively large percentage of Cruz’s assets are in oil and gas, he is not currently deriving a lot of income from them. According to his disclosure form, Cruz derived anywhere from $20,406 to $62,000 from his fossil fuel stock holdings, which (if you include his campaign loan) make up anywhere from 5.5 to 12.9 percent of his total income. Most of his income comes from royalties on his new book, A Time For Truth. The form does not include his Senate salary.
Representatives for the Cruz campaign did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment.