The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources is currently holding a hearing into responses to the Gulf oil spill with Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifying. From 2005-2010, the oil and gas industry has contributed over $2.3 million to current members of the committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The current leading recipient of oil and gas campaign contributions on the committee is Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a strong proponent of offshore drilling. Landrieu has received $363,950 from the oil and gas industry over the last five years. In the wake of the Gulf oil spill that is washing ashore in her state, Landrieu firmly backed offshore drilling as key to America's energy future and vital to Louisiana's economy. She has also called for a compromise in raising the liability cap for companies involved in oil spills. The cap is currently set at $75 million.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., is second highest recipient of oil and gas money on the committee with $311,750. Lincoln has been a proponent of offshore drilling for some time, praising President Obama's March decision to expand offshore drilling. Since the Gulf oil spill happened, Lincoln has remained quiet on whether a moratorium should be reenacted and has focused on expressing concern over BP's practices.
The oil spill became an issue in the waning days of the primary campaign between Lincoln and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. The League of Conservation Voters released an advertisement critical of Lincoln for the oil and gas contributions she has received and for her previous votes in favor of oil company tax breaks. Despite the advertising, Lincoln won what many consider a surprise victory over Halter last night.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is another top recipient on the committee with $225,326. Murkowski, whose state is reliant on the oil and gas industry, has been the biggest defender of the industry in the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sunk causing the massive Gulf oil spill. When the Senate sought to pass legislation raising the liability cap on oil companies, Murkowski blocked consideration of the bill to raise the cap from $75 million to $10 billion.
Below are oil and gas contributions to the full committee:
|Oil & Gas Contributions to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee (2005-2010)|
|Lisa Murkowski (ranking member)||$225,326|
|Jeff Bingaman (chairman)||$96,270|