Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Senators Graham and DeMint Among Big Oil’s Favorite Senators
Press Release

RELEASE: Senators Graham and DeMint Among Big Oil’s Favorite Senators

Received Huge Oil and Gas Campaign Dollars; Opposed Clean Energy Incentives

Washington, DC – An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham (R) and Jim DeMint, who last week blocked a comprehensive bipartisan clean energy tax package, received significantly more campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry compared to tax package supporters. On June 21st, Graham and DeMint voted against a critical cloture vote that failed 58-35 – two votes short of the 60 needed to end debate and pass the amendment. The clean energy tax package included economic incentives for the development of clean, alternative energy technologies, closed loopholes for big oil, and recovered unpaid royalties on oil from federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA).

“Senators Graham and DeMint helped big oil by blocking this bipartisan clean energy tax package,” said Daniel J. Weiss, Center for American Progress Action Fund Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy. “These two senators received thousands of dollars in campaign cash and saved big oil billions of dollars by maintaining loopholes and handouts.”

An analysis of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry between 2002 and 2007 found that Graham received $88,300 during those years, while DeMint received $107,672 over that period. The 58 senators that voted for the package received an average of only $56,942 between 2002 and 2007. Graham received one and half times the average clean energy supporter, while DeMint received nearly double the average supporter.

The bipartisan clean energy tax package would have provided tax incentives for the following clean energy technologies:

  • Renewable electricity, such as solar and wind power: $12.5 billion
  • Energy efficiency: $3.1 billion
  • Carbon dioxide capture: $1.6 billion
  • Biofuels: $1.3 billion
  • Clean, more efficient vehicles: $1.5 billion.

These incentives would have been funded via closure of tax loopholes for oil and gas companies worth $15 billion, and $10 billion from a 13 percent severance tax on oil and gas from Gulf of Mexico leases. This is equivalent to the federal royalties energy companies evaded in the late 1990s due to a procedural error by the Department of Interior.

“Of course Senators Graham and DeMint are not on the pay roll of big oil,” Weiss said. “But when big oil knocked, they answered the call to block progress on clean energy.”