Last month, a report called “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA” was released by Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Sen. Vitter is the ranking minority member on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.
Vitter’s “Green Billionaires Club” report tracks donations from environmental foundations to various non-profits in an attempt to highlight the policy agendas of these organizations. Policy agendas such as combating global warming and reducing cancer-causing pollutants from the air and water.
But as Jesse Coleman writes, “Rather than a tool for open government, Vitter’s Billionaire’s Club report seems more like a distraction from the real billionaires in politics, major corporations and industrialists, with whose agenda David Vitter is strongly aligned.”
Indeed. At a Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works hearing in July, Sen. Vitter voiced his opinion on EPA’s proposed rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions saying, “EPA’s proposed rule seeks to turn states into either hostages or unwilling accomplices in its effort to impoverish families and businesses and communities.”
It was reported shortly after the “Green Billionaires Club” report was released that Sen. Vitter owns tens of thousands of dollars in stocks in polluting companies like Wisconsin Energy Corporation, an electric utility that owns major coal-fired power plants in both Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
Financial disclosure forms obtained by DeSmogBlog also show Sen. Vitter owns stock in other polluting companies that stand to benefit from lax environmental standards such as: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Emerson Electric, General Electric, and NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Light & Power.
Furthermore, Sen. Vitter received more money from the oil and gas sector than any other sector in his last election campaign, and half of all the donations to his Super PAC have also come from the oil and gas sector.
In addition to the oil and gas sector making up the largest share of donators, an Energy & Policy Institute analysis finds that many companies contributing to Sen. Vitter’s campaign committee and Super PAC are also against the EPA Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule, or the EPA itself.
Alpha Natural Resources, Koch Industries, Murray Energy, and Southern Company are some of the highest contributors in the 2013-2014 cycle to Sen. Vitter. Koch Industries and Murray Energy were also some of the top contributors to Sen. Vitter between 2007-2012.
Murray Energy, the nation’s largest privately owned coal company, filed suit against EPA’s proposed rules in June. The company stated in their press release, “These cap-and-tax regulations will destroy millions of jobs, cripple the American economy, and cause massive blackouts in our Country.”
Koch Industries is the nation’s second largest privately held company and is controlled by Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers have been pulling the strings of elected officials to dismantle the EPA for years.
Alpha Natural Resources, the second largest coal mining company in the nation, made it clear they were also against the EPA rules. Earlier this month Alpha informed about 1,100 of their employees that they could get laid off as a result the standards.
Southern Company while saying publically they want to help with “finding solutions that make technological, environmental and economic sense” regarding EPA rules, will continue to use their front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to fight the EPA standards.
Another interesting company to note that has donated to Vitter’s campaign is WPP Group, the world’s largest advertising firm by revenue, and parent company of Burson-Marsteller.
WPP was in the news this past year as a result of Burson-Marsteller working for Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company, in the Advance Energy for Life campaign “extolling the virtues of coal for poor people.”
It is unknown at this point whether any outside lobbyists were used in helping with researching or writing the Vitter’s “Green Billionaires Club” report.
Sen. Vitter, however, will continue to pocket dirty energy money, and then fight any policies that combat global warming while calling for expanding oil and gas drilling and coal mining.