Center for American Progress Action

STATEMENT: Senator Domenici Among Big Oil’s Favorite Senators
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Senator Domenici Among Big Oil’s Favorite Senators

Received Huge Oil and Gas Campaign Dollars; Led Opposition to Clean Energy Incentives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici (R), 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, Domenici led opposition to and voted against a critical cloture vote that failed 58-35 – two votes short of the 60 needed to end debate and pass the amendment. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) coauthored and voted for the packaged. 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. In addition to Bingaman, it was sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA).

“Senator Domenici 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. “He received thousands of dollars in campaign cash and saved big oil billions of dollars by maintaining loopholes and handouts. Fortunately, Senator Bingaman led the fight for clean energy and against big oil.”

In addition to his opposition to the clean energy tax package, Domenici led the fight to block a vote on Bingaman’s renewable electricity standard amendment that would have required utilities in 2020 to provide 15% of their electricity from clean technologies such as solar and wind power. New Mexico already has such a program, so it would have created additional markets for its clean energy.

An analysis of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry between 2002 and 2007 found that Domenici received $197,058 during those years. The 58 senators that voted for the package received an average of only $56,942 between 2002 and 2007. Domenici received nearly four times more big oil money than the average clean energy 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 Senator Domenici is not on the pay roll of big oil,” Weiss said. “But when big oil knocked, he answered the call to block progress on clean energy. Senator Bingaman stood up for New Mexico by ignoring big oil’s pleas, and led the fight for this critical clean energy package.”