Last month, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to allow the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without a presidential permit or additional environmental review by a vote of 62-36. On Feb. 11, the bill that President Obama vowed to veto, was passed by the House with a vote of 270 to 152.
However, a report by maplight.org shows the oil and gas industry is making significantly larger campaign donations to lawmakers who support the proposed bill than those who don’t. The report forces us to ask which came first, the vote or the donation?
According to the report, the oil and gas industry gave an average of 10 times larger donations to U.S. senators who voted yes to the bill in comparison to the donations made to senators who voted no.
That’s a whopping average campaign donation of $236,544 for supporters of the bill and a measly average $22,882 for senators voting no to the bill.
Money in politics is a subject that many Americans take issue with and it’s difficult to look at these numbers without questioning the ethics of campaign donations.
With large corporations and people like the Koch brothers, it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish the difference between lawmakers doing what is best for the country and what is best for their campaign finances.
The primary argument against the Keystone XL bill involve the possible environmental effects that the pipeline could create, pitting the oil and gas industry in a lobbying battle with environmentalists. As you can imagine, environmental advocacy is not exactly the most lucrative field, whereas oil and gas production is one of the most lucrative industries in the world.
So how are environmentalists supposed to compete with the donations of big oil and gas? The answer is that they can’t and they shouldn’t have to.
America’s laws should not be determined by who can give the most money, it should be determined by what is best for the American people. Money in politics threatens the very core values of democracy.
Washington needs to take a good hard look at the possibility of increasing regulations on campaign donations. We need to eliminate the effects of money on politics and get back to doing what is best for America and not doing what is best for campaign accounts.