|Organizers say that there’s too much fossil industry influence in state politics, which has affected policy decision-making from fixing the energy grid to eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas. Several candidates have responded by committing to refusing large donations from the oil, gas, and coal industries.
TEXAS – This Valentine’s Day advocates are urging candidates for Texas public office to “break up with fossil fuels” by refusing campaign donations from the fossil industry. The digital campaign pressured candidates for Texas public offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, Railroad Commissioner, State House, and State Senate) to sign the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” which commits candidates to “…adopt a policy to not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, lobbyists, or SEC-named executives of fossil fuel companies…” before the first day of early voting for the Primary Elections.
Organizers say that there’s too much fossil fuel influence in state politics, which has affected policy decision-making from fixing the energy grid to eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas. Several candidates responded by committing to refuse large donations from the oil, gas, and coal industries. The list includes Jasmine Crockett, U.S. House TX-30; Shenita Cleveland, U.S. House TX-30; Jessica Mason, U.S. House TX-30; Greg Casar, U.S. House TX-35; Subramanian “Nam” Namrata, State House District 14; Ron Reynolds, State House District 27; James Talerico, State House District 50, David Alcorta, State House District 50, Cody Arn, State House District 51, Matt Worthington, State House District 51, Robert Reynolds, State House District 51; Christopher Rector, TX State House 97; and Aurelia Wagner, State House District 147.
Candidates have expressed positive responses to the pledge, saying they don’t want to be viewed as beholden to the fossil fuel industry.
One of the pledge advocates, Corey Troiani with Texas Campaign for the Environment, expressed frustration at the lack of grid reform after Winter Storm Uri. “ It’s the one year anniversary of the storm, and our state leaders have failed to hold that industry accountable for their bad practices including price gouging, market manipulation, rampant pollution, and meddling with sensible regulations that protect public health. It’s no coincidence that many state politicians who continue to fail us are those who have taken large checks from the oil and gas industry.”
Other organizers took up the “no fossil fuel money” and “break up with fossil fuels” message by creating filmed skits featuring an unlikable businessman-introduced as a fossil fuel executive- wallowing after being dumped by a candidate for Texas public office. In one skit the executive cries in the shower, wearing a full suit. In another, the candidate is shown jubilantly running through a field barefoot, ripping up a check from the executive, and winning her race.
“It was very cathartic to act the part of a politician who gets the backbone to stand up for what’s right,” said SJ Stout and organizer with Texas Campaign for the Environment. “You can easily imagine the kind of dynamic – just like a toxic relationship – where predatory power-players lure politicians into doing what they want. The spike in political donations from the fossil fuel industry after the Winter Storm Uri is an example of that. Fossil fuels are buying influence that keeps them immune from social and economic consequences.”
Kevin Patterson, with Sunrise Movement Dallas, also worked on putting the pledge in front of candidates. “As candidates, year after year, ask young people for their support to tackle key issues like climate change, it’s important that they don’t make promises to fight for our future and take money from the same corporations destroying our future. It’s more important than ever for candidates to run on a bold climate platform with taking the no fossil fuel money pledge to show they will stay true to their word.”
Advocates for the pledge say they aren’t stopping anytime soon, and that next steps include showing up at candidate forums and taking the pledge to winners of each district race to get them on record for the General Election in November.