Energy industry spent more than $721 million on 2014 elections

The energy industry spent more than $721 million on political campaigns during the 2014 election cycle, according to the Center for American Progress.

Coal, oil and gas and electric utilities companies also funneled perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars more to outside political groups over the two years leading up to November’s midterm elections, the Washington, D.C. based think tank said in a release Monday.

The Atlas Project, a left-leaning research group, compiled the report from Center for Responsive Politics data on contributions and lobbying spending, and from Kantar Media Intelligence data on advertising spending.

CAP further broke down the spending totals: $84 million in direct contributions to candidates, political parties or outside spending groups such as political action committees, $163 million on television ads and nearly $500 million on lobbying activities from 2013 to ’14.

The split in spending was nearly 80-to-20 in favor of Republican candidates and groups over Democrats.

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CAP said in its column that oil industry advertising campaigns over the two years before the election mostly targeted safety concerns over drilling programs.

“Specifically, organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Association, and BP ran ads throughout the election cycle supporting hydraulic fracturing, promoting the use and benefits of natural gas in targeted locations, and attempting to reassure the public about the safety of offshore drilling,” CAP researchers Claire Moser and Matt Lee-Ashley wrote.

CAP wrote that the spending helped several energy industry-favored resolutions become law: a legislative rider attached to a defense spending bill in December that would allow the Bull Mountains in Montana to be strip mined for coal; a land exchange giving 2,400 acres in Arizona to a subsidiary of Melbourne and London-based Rio Tinto, a mining corporation; and several provisions blocking Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

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