The Price of Power

Each year the federal government provides at least $10 billion in subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries (some estimates say the figure is as high as $52 billion). In March the US Senate considered a motion to repeal the tax benefits for the largest oil and gas companies. The effort fell nine votes short of the 60 votes needed to reach the Senate floor. Senators who voted to maintain the subsidies received about six times as much money from oil and gas producers, petroleum refiners, and marketers as senators who voted to scrap the public payouts.

graphic showing proportions of monies given to politicians supporting or not-supporting subsidies to oil and gas extraction

Even more lopsided was the giving by interest groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce who were opposed to the motion. Donations to subsidy supporters outpaced donations to opponents 14-to-1.