Under the Influence: Money and Power in Politics

Oil-Backed Republicans Seek Repeal of EPA CO2 Rules

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Members of Congress argued Monday afternoon for an amendment that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, a key priority for the agency under administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

At a markup hearing for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican members said repealing the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases would bolster the economy. What they didn't mention was that the policy would also benefit the energy and natural resources sector, which makes up more than $3 million, or about 15 percent, of the collective contributions received by the 31 Republicans on the committee last year.

"This bill says 'stop' to an EPA attempting to impose policies we cannot afford that will destroy jobs we cannot afford to lose," said Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, who proposed the bill.

The Energy Tax Prevention Act would declassify greenhouse gases as 'air pollutants,' preventing the EPA from regulating GHG emissions.

The oil and gas industry alone gave more than $1.7 million to the Republicans on the committee. Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas received the most of the committee members, at $190,450, an amount that also makes him the 12th greatest recipient from the oil and gas industry out of all 435 members of Congress.

Wichita-based energy company Koch Industries gave the single largest contribution from an oil and gas contributor — $79,500 — to Pompeo. Koch Industries is reported to be the second largest private company in the United States.

Most of Pompeo's top contributions come from the natural resources and energy sector and include Mull Drilling, Textron Inc. and McCoy Petroleum. Pompeo also hired a former Koch lobbyist, Mark Chenoweth, to serve as his chief of staff.

After the hearing, reporters approached Pompeo and asked how the Koch and oil contributions play into his support of relaxed greenhouse gas regulation, but he wouldn't answer the question on the spot and suggested we contact his press secretary. Calls and e-mails have been placed to the press secretary, and we are awaiting a reply.

Democrats on the committee opposed the amendment, calling it a denial of the harms of greenhouse gas. The 23 committee Democrats received about half of what Republicans did from the oil and gas industry in 2010 — with three Democrats collecting the majority of those oil contributions. Rep. Gene Green of Texas, Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, and Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah combined received $193,650.

The committee is scheduled to vote and approve the bill this week.

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