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No Fossil Fuel Money Coalition Members Call Out Biden’s Questionable Fundraising Practices

WASHINGTON — Despite signing the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge in June, former Vice President Joe Biden has and continues to exploit loopholes and use questionable fundraising practices to accept contributions from the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists.

Our democracy is drowning in a tidal wave of fossil fuel money that is undermining our political will to address the driver of the climate crisis: the production and burning of fossil fuels. The No Fossil Fuel Money pledge represents a bright line between candidates who stand for transparency, democracy, and strong climate action, and candidates who say the right words on the need for climate action, but continue to take polluters’ money — poisoning our democracy in the process.

Despite signing the pledge six months ago, Biden accepted thousands of dollars in contributions directly from executives of Marathon and North Star Energy, both fossil fuel companies, just days prior to signing the pledge.[1] He has since allowed high-ranking fossil fuel industry representatives to support his candidacy in numerous other ways, including:

  • In September 2019, The Intercept exposed an upcoming Biden fundraiser being hosted on Wall St. by a fossil fuel company founder. Biden was questioned about the fundraiser at a live CNN climate forum, where he attempted to dismiss the concern. He proceeded to attend the fundraiser and has defended raising money at events hosted by fossil fuel power-brokers.
  • Most recently, Biden flipped his position of not wanting support from super PACs — which would allow for nearly unlimited money from fossil fuel executives and others to support his candidacy — and embraced a new super PAC established by longtime Biden supporters.
    • When questioned about the super PAC and potential fossil fuel ties, he told a North Carolina voter, “Look at my record, child.” When South Carolina activists with Friends of the Earth Action confronted him on the issue, he said, “Stop listening to Bernie Sanders, man,” and had them removed.

 

None of these actions constitute a technical violation of the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge because the people involved are not named executives of fossil fuel companies or listed in lobbyist databases as working for fossil fuel companies. Super PAC donations are secret and therefore not covered by the pledge. Nonetheless, we consider them counter to the spirit of the pledge and are deeply disturbed that Vice President Biden appears not to respect the closing language of the pledge, which states that candidates signing will “prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”

As No Fossil Fuel Money coalition members, we call on the former Vice President to correct his behavior by returning all the money he has raised with and from fossil fuel executives and lobbyists, and to abide by the spirit of the No Fossil Fuel money pledge.

The No Fossil Fuel Money pledge has been signed by nearly 2,000 candidates for office, including nearly every Democrat running for president of the United States. The full pledge states, “I pledge not to take contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”

Statements from No Fossil Fuel Money coalition member organizations:

“Joe Biden needs to reject big polluters’ money and influence over his campaign,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action. “With donations from Big Oil and Big Ag, it’s no surprise that Biden has been reluctant to embrace the bold solutions we need. We need candidates who will fight against corporate polluters and eliminate their outsized power in our political system.”

“Joe Biden just doesn’t get it — where ‘it’ refers to an existential threat to humanity,” said RL Miller, political director of Climate Hawks Vote. “And he needs to decide which side he’s on — the side of business as usual, or the side of saving humankind.”

“Joe Biden has lagged not only in severing these questionable ties to fossil fuel executives, but in clarifying what his definitive vision for climate action would be, were he to be elected,” said Natalie Mebane, policy director at 350 Action. “We’ve launched a petition to push Biden to be a real climate leader, exactly because of the influence fossil fuel lobbyists seem to have over his campaign. To catch up to the other frontrunners who have proposed bold climate plans, Biden needs to do better.”

“Taking the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge is a way for candidates to make a crystal-clear statement that the fossil fuel era is over,” said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change U.S. “If Joe Biden or others wink and nod to their fossil fuel buddies that business as usual can continue, it’s clear they’re not abiding by the spirit of the pledge. We need a bold commitment to a fossil-free future — nothing else will suffice to save the planet.”

[1] Fossil fuel donations to Vice President Joe Biden in the weeks immediately before he signed the pledge. Compiled from FEC data here.

First Name

Last Name

Employer

Receipt Date

Receipt Amount

Michael

Welch

Marathon Oil

4/25/2019

$250.00

Amy

Claxton

My Energy Consulting

4/25/2019

$1,000.00

Howard

Cornelius

BW Energy

4/25/2019

$500.00

Jane

Barrentine

Baytex Energy

4/25/2019

$250.00

Howard

Cornelius

BW Energy

4/25/2019

$500.00

Nazar

Massouh

Orion Energy Partners

4/27/2019

$1,000.00

Andrew

Singer

Energy Capital Partners

5/9/2019

$750.00

Jerry

Drenis

Marathon Energy Corporation

6/14/2019

$2,800.00

Bert

Valdman

North Star Energy

6/26/2019

$2,800.00

Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, ejensen@foe.org