Presenter/Author Information

Gautam Sethi, Bard College, United States

Start Date

15-9-2020 6:00 PM

End Date

15-9-2020 6:20 PM

Abstract

Recent congressional policy outcomes on fossil fuel regulation do not reflect any urgency to curb CO2 emissions. One reason why the United States Congress has failed to enact meaningful policy to address climate change is that the fossil fuel industry, through hefty campaign contributions, is able to influence legislators to vote against environmental interests. Building off existing econometric research, we estimate the influence of oil and gas contributions on voting behavior of House members on 157 bills between the 107th-114th Congresses. Our results show a significant relationship between oil and gas contributions and anti-environment voting behavior, indicating that the probability of a legislator to vote against the environment increases as the proportion of total amount raised from oil and gas interests increases. We also find that ideological moderates and legislators from competitive districts are more susceptible to influence from fossil fuels, and that moderate and vulnerable Democrats are more susceptible to fossil fuel influence than Republicans. These results suggest that basic campaign finance laws fail to sufficiently prevent oil and gas interests from influencing environmental policy outcomes. Based on these results, we propose a bold and comprehensive approach to disrupt and prevent the undue influence of special interests on our political system. We recommend scaling up existing municipal programs aimed at enhancing small-dollar donations, holding candidates who pledge to reject special interest money accountable through institutionalized enforcement mechanisms, and using community organizing to transform campaign finance systems at the local and state level.

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Sep 15th, 6:00 PM Sep 15th, 6:20 PM

Peddling Influence: Estimating the Impact of Lobbying on Congressional Voting Behavior and Environmental Policy

Recent congressional policy outcomes on fossil fuel regulation do not reflect any urgency to curb CO2 emissions. One reason why the United States Congress has failed to enact meaningful policy to address climate change is that the fossil fuel industry, through hefty campaign contributions, is able to influence legislators to vote against environmental interests. Building off existing econometric research, we estimate the influence of oil and gas contributions on voting behavior of House members on 157 bills between the 107th-114th Congresses. Our results show a significant relationship between oil and gas contributions and anti-environment voting behavior, indicating that the probability of a legislator to vote against the environment increases as the proportion of total amount raised from oil and gas interests increases. We also find that ideological moderates and legislators from competitive districts are more susceptible to influence from fossil fuels, and that moderate and vulnerable Democrats are more susceptible to fossil fuel influence than Republicans. These results suggest that basic campaign finance laws fail to sufficiently prevent oil and gas interests from influencing environmental policy outcomes. Based on these results, we propose a bold and comprehensive approach to disrupt and prevent the undue influence of special interests on our political system. We recommend scaling up existing municipal programs aimed at enhancing small-dollar donations, holding candidates who pledge to reject special interest money accountable through institutionalized enforcement mechanisms, and using community organizing to transform campaign finance systems at the local and state level.