fossil fuel

Three Senate Democrats, as well as an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, all voted with Republicans to block the Green New Deal this week. All four of them have received more than $2 million in career campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

While Republicans control the Senate, it wasn’t likely that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) would even allow a vote on the legislation that would reinvent the American economy to transition away from one dependent on fossil fuel infrastructure to one that would rely on sustainable “green” energy. However, McConnell did allow a cloture vote on the bill, in which legislation gets a floor debate if it crosses a 60-vote procedural hurdle.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), who championed the House version of the bill, encouraged Senate Democrats to vote “present” on the cloture vote, calling out McConnell and Senate Republicans for trying to force a vote without actually holding any public hearings on the legislation or on climate change. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in October of 2018 that the world has 12 years to act on climate change before the damage caused by a warming climate becomes catastrophic for humanity.

The Senate eventually voted 0-57 against cloture. All Democrats other than Senators Doug Jones (D-Alabama), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) voted present. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, also sided with Republicans in voting no.

According to federal campaign finance records compiled by OpenSecrets, those four senators received a total of $2,371,680 over the course of their Congressional careers from the Electric Utilities, Mining, and Oil & Gas industries, all of which stand to lose money should the Green New Deal pass and fossil fuel technology be phased out.

In the case of those industries not ranking among the top 20 industries donating to a senator’s campaign, donations from the Energy & Natural Resources sector are used to give a more general picture of fossil fuel support.

1. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)

$1,747,338 in fossil fuel donations since 2009

2. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama)

$127,312 in fossil fuel donations since 2001

3. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona)

$320,254 in fossil fuel donations since 2011

4. Senator Angus King (I-Maine)

$176,776 in fossil fuel donations since 2011

The Green New Deal resolutions in both the House and the Senate have a combined total of 106 co-sponsors, according to the Sunrise Movement. The Senate version, sponsored by Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), is co-sponsored by 10 other Senate Democrats as well as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Some top Democrats remain skeptical of the legislation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who dismissed it as the “Green dream or whatever.”


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.


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