By MICHAEL BASTASCH
Environmentalists have outspent the oil and gas industry more than 2-to-1 so far this election cycle, according to federal campaign finance data.
Environmental interests pumped more than $43.8 million in “outside spending” so far this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a government watchdog that compiles campaign finance data.
All of it went to liberal candidates, groups and causes, CRP’s campaign finance data shows.
That’s nearly two and a half times as much as oil and gas interests have put towards “outside spending” this election cycle. CRP data shows oil and gas interests spent more than $18.3 million this cycle. (RELATED: Book Debunks Activist Spin On Natural Disasters And Global Warming)
Mining interests spent even less at just over $3.5 million, and electric utilities put around $2.9 million towards outside expenditures. Most oil, gas, mining and utility donations went to conservatives, CRP reported.
CRP defines outside spending as “political expenditures made by groups or individuals independently of, and not coordinated with, candidates’ committees.” Basically, this is spending on advertisements, rallies and activities separate that aren’t coordinated with candidates for office.
The surge of environmentalist funding makes sense in the broader political context. Polls suggest Democrats are poised to gain seats in the House, but key red state Senate Democrats face tough reelection battles.
However, environmentalists outspending oil and gas interests isn’t necessarily a new development. Environmentalists spent more than $140.8 million during the 2016 election, compared to the oil and gas industry’s $39.1 million in outside spending.
About $14 million of environmentalist spending this cycle came from organizations, while around $29 million came from individuals affiliated with eco-groups and causes, according to CRP data.
Spending from individuals, however, almost exactly match spending by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, who founded the environmental group NextGen Climate Action. Steyer’s given NextGen more than $29 million this election cycle, CRP figures show.
Steyer was the single largest donor in the 2016 election cycle, spending more than $89.7 million, and bundled donations for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Steyer made his name among liberal activists opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline.