While most know that the fossil fuel industry is the leading source of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions, few appreciate the extent of their control over federal and state legislators. Oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle, 75 percent of which has gone to Republicans.
One of the biggest political spenders is the American Petroleum Institute (API) which is the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry (including hydraulic fracturing). API has created numerous front groups to advance its political agenda including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council. Despite being called the American Petroleum Institute, its 2012 directors include Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a Saudi Arabian national who heads the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) subsidiary, the state-run oil company that also helps finance API. In 2012 alone the oil and gas lobby spent $139,7 million to advance their interests in the U.S.
According to a facts sheet from 350.org, fossil fuels are subsidized at almost six times the rate of renewable energy. From 2002 to 2008, the federal government gave the fossil fuel industry over $72 billion in subsidies while the renewable industry received $12.2 billion. The Yale Project on Climate Change’s November 2011 survey found that 70 percent of Americans opposed federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including 67 percent of registered Republicans.