Keystone Vote Shows Money Trumps Health Protections for Americans Near Fracking Sites

Senators voting “No” on health protections received nearly 10 times more money from the oil and gas industry

New York, NY- Senators who voted yesterday against an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill that would have restored Safe Drinking Water Act protections for areas around fracking operations were large recipients of money from the oil and gas industries. A review of political contributions shows that Senators who voted “NO” on the amendment received, on average, 9.7 times more money ($225,687) from the oil and gas industry than to those who voted “YES” ($23,258), according t​o​ a MapLight analysis of opensecrets.org data.

“With the recent 5th anniversary of the Citizens United decision, we’ve seen many examples of the corrupting influence of money in politics,” said Ansje Miller, Eastern States Director of CEH. “Yesterday’s vote was yet another in which corporate money took hostage of the political process, once again putting industry’s profits before our children’s and families’ health.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) yesterday introduced an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill that would have rescinded the “Halliburton Loophole” that exempts fracking companies from Clean Water Act compliance rules. All Senate Republicans joined by ten Democrats voted down the proposal. The analysis by MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money in politics, shows that, between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2014, Republican Senators received, on average, $250,225 from oil and gas industry contributions; the ​ten Democratic Senators who voted “No” on the proposal received contributions of, on average, $95,636 during this period – more than four times more than Democratic and Independent Senators who voted ‘Yes.”​

Fracking operations may involve the use of any number of more than 750 chemicals; many of these chemicals are routinely released into the environment, and potentially into drinking water, posing health threats to nearby communities. A recent peer-reviewed paper co-authored by CEH on the reproductive health data found that chemicals from fracking could be linked to reduced semen quality, infertility, and an increased risk of miscarriage and still births.

Opensecrets.org includes ​independent oil & gas producers, major (multinational) oil & gas producers, oilfield service, equipment & exploration, oil & gas, natural gas transmission & distribution companies as “Oil & Gas” contributors.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is the leading national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. CEH protects children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

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