From Open Secrets:
Back in Washington after a trip last week to the global climate change conference in Paris, President Barack Obama will soon find two new bills on his desk, both aimed at sinking his administration’s initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.
The president isn’t expected to sign them. But the message from the Republican-majority Congress is unmistakable: When it comes to climate change, Mr. President, you’re on your own.
As it happens, 120 members of Congress — more than one-fifth — are personally invested in seeing fossil fuel companies remain strong: They own oil and gas assets that were valued at between $44 million and $134 million in 2014, according to personal financial disclosure statements analyzed by OpenSecrets.org.
The stock was held by members of both parties, while the votes on the provisions going to the White House were largely party-line affairs; almost all Democrats stuck with the president.
But among the 13 lawmakers who held the largest amount of stock in fossil fuel companies — each with oil and gas assets worth more than $1 million — 10 were Republicans and just three were Democrats.
It was the seventh most-popular industry for congressional investment, right after pharmaceuticals — an industry whose own considerable influence in Congress may be due in part to members’ investments, as STAT has noted — and just ahead of electronics.
Forty-two members held stock in Chevron Corp. and 37 were invested in Exxon Mobil, which currently finds itself taking heat for the apparently intentional disconnect between what it knew about the effects of climate change years ago and what it told the outside world, including investors, about the research. Schlumberger LTD had 29 members among its investors; ConocoPhillips had 20.
Rep. Thomas MacArthur (R-N.J.) owned stock in all four of those corporations and more — with at least $1.3 million in shares of 41 oil and gas companies, his industry portfolio far outpaces his colleagues’.
He’s also a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
As a member of the federal lands subcommittee, MacArthur helps oversee the nation’s national parks, national forests, public lands and natural monuments. In May, he introduced a bill that would allow rights-of-way for natural gas pipelines cutting through all federally owned lands.
“Rep. MacArthur’s bill has nothing to do with benefiting any one organization or company. In fact, it removes power from members of Congress to make these pipeline decisions,” Chris Russell, MacArthur’s campaign spokesman, said.
Russell said Democrats targeted MacArthur’s investments in his last campaign, calling their efforts an attempt to “manufacture phony controversies on every investment Tom ever made.”
Jon Fox, who focuses on money-in-politics issues for the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth in Berkeley, Calif., said it’s “ridiculous” that legislators can profit from “selling out the planet” to such companies. “Disclosure is clearly not enough to stop lawmakers from passing rules that help the companies they are invested in. Congress should act to tighten the ethics rules to prevent legislators from profiting from climate change,” he said.
MacArthur’s average estimated wealth stood at about $53 million in 2014 and he reported owning thousands of assets — much more than just oil and gas company stock. Meanwhile, however, four lawmakers each held one asset in the oil and gas industry worth $1 million or more in 2014 on its own.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) owned between $11 million and $55 million in shares of Trinity Petroleum and received between $100,000 and $1 million in capital gains from those assets in 2014. That made him the lawmaker most heavily invested in the oil and gas industry by a wide margin, all due to his ties to one company.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who owned a stake in a North Dakota energy holdings company worth between $1.2 million and $5.4 million, acquired a bigger share of the company, Mainstream Investors LLC, between 2013 and 2014, according to his aide. Mainstream Investors buys leases in the Bakken, the North Dakota shale formation that saw a massive boom in gas drilling in the last decade.
Two more members owned more than $1 million in oil and gas assets. Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) held assets worth more than $1 million in Obsidian Holdings LLC, and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) owned $1 million in Apco Oil and Gas International assets.
Senior Researcher Dan Auble contributed to this post.