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Jul-20-2010 19:11printcomments

Legislators Calling To Lift Ban On Drilling Were Top Recipients of Oil Industry Funds

Once again, following the money trail with

Oil rig

(BERKELEY, Calif.) - Since the spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, seven bills have been introduced that call for a permanent ban on offshore drilling in specific areas and two call for a temporary ban in the Gulf. Other bills allow for more drilling but call for improved standards (i.e. double hull tankers). Three bills call for an end to the ban on offshore drilling.

An analysis by, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization, found that legislators calling for the ban to be lifted were among the industry’s top recipients of oil industry funds from May 2008 through May 2010, according to data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Legislators introducing permanent bans on drilling have received relatively little money from the oil industry.

Graph of Money from Oil Industry to Senators Authoring Spill-Response Legislation

Graph of Money from Oil Industry to Representatives Authoring Spill-Response Legislation

Bills Calling for Permanent Ban on Drilling

Representative Kathy Castor authored a bill (HR 5358) that would prevent offshore drilling around her state of Florida.

Another Florida Representative, Corrine Brown, introduced a bill (HR 5287) to ban drilling off of the entire East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. John Garamendi, both of California, each sponsored a bill (S 3358, HR 5213) designating the shores off of the West Coast as no-drill areas.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) went the furthest with bills (HR 5248, S 3433) that would permanently prohibit drilling on the entire Outer Continental Shelf, an area defined as the East and West coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the coast of Alaska. (Sanders’ bill would also increase vehicle mileage standards.) 

Of the two senators, Boxer has taken $13,000 over the last six years from oil interests, 81th out of the 100 senators, but more than Sanders’ $3,300, which places him 93th. None of the four Representatives above received more than $1,000 from oil interests in the past two years. 

Bills that would Lift the Ban on Drilling

Those calling for the moratorium to be lifted have received significant oil money in the most recent election cycle.

Representatives Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas) have received $61,600 and $172,750 respectively, in the last two years from the oil industry. Olson’s total is third highest of the 435 House members, and Cassidy’s is 38th. In the Senate, David Vitter’s (R-La.) $559,386 over six years is the second highest total.

The three have brought nearly identical bills: (HR 5525, S 3489, HR 5519) calling for an end to the moratorium on offshore drilling (Cassidy’s also calls for the Secretary of the Interior to ensure the safety of all future drilling projects). 

Middle Ground Bills

Between these two poles, both in the scope of the bills and their sponsors’ funding from the oil industry, are several more moderate bills.

Two bills from Florida, one from Democrat Kendrick Meek  (HR 5222) and the other from Republican Vern Buchanan, (HR 5436),  call for a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico until the spill has been cleaned up (as judged by the Secretary of the Interior). Meek’s bill goes further, suspending all offshore drilling until the Secretary makes recommendations.  

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Rep. Gerald Connoly (D-Va.) sponsored bills that address the process of granting offshore drilling permits.

Brown’s bill (S 3497) would require a drilling company to have a spill response plan, which the Secretary of the Interior would have to approve.

Bingaman's (S 3516) would establish new agencies to oversee the leasing, permitting and safety of oil drilling and minimize conflict of interest within these bureaus.

Connolly’s bill (HR 5506) would require a detailed assessment of the environmental impact of any proposed drilling or exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf, before the action could be approved. 

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) offered a four bills with an eye toward preventing future spills. One bill (S 685) requires oil tankers to have double hulls. Another (S 3492) would make oil companies build emergency relief wells, which would mitigate the effects of a potential spill. A third bill (S 3443) from Lautenberg -- and a provision in Connoly’s bill mentioned above -- would eliminate a rule requiring the Secretary of the Interior to accept or reject any proposed drilling projects within thirty days. His last bill (S 3343) would introduce a $10/acre fee on leased offshore land. The money would go toward a fund to help reduce U.S. dependence on oil. 

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About is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Its mission is to illuminate the connection between Money and Politics (MAP) using our groundbreaking database of campaign contributions and legislative votes. combines data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics,, the National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP), the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and other sources to better inform Americans and local and national media about the role of special-interest money in our political system. Hundreds of newspapers, TV stations, radio shows and online news sites have cited's research, including CNN, the public radio show Marketplace, Harper's, The Washington Post, and Reuters. has received numerous awards including a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism; a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter and a Webby nomination for best Politics website. To learn more, please visit:

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Carolyn July 21, 2010 8:31 am (Pacific time)

How much in campaign contributions did Obama get? Wasn't he number one in campaign cash from both BP and Wall Street businesses/employees during the 2008 election cycle? Wall Street trades big bucks in commodities like oil. It is a fact that the Deepwater Horizon well that blew up was issued a permit to drill and had it's safety inspection waived. That seems rather pertinent to me. Currently many of the oil rigs have moved to Egypt and the congo area for drilling. China is about to do deepwater drilling south of Florida, and much closer to U.S. shores than Deepwater Horizon. What a mess, but we should all be vigilant about how info is structured and disseminated in this matter in my opinion.

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