Polluting Politics Report

Environment America Research and Policy Center has released a report on the massive amounts of money that polluters spend to influence decision makers and ensure they can keep damaging our waterways, called Polluting Politics.


It’s no secret that the same polluting industries that are fouling our waterways also contribute to political campaigns and lobby lawmakers. But just how much money are the biggest polluters spending?

Last summer, Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Wasting Our Waterways report used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) to show just how much toxic pollution entered our waterways and watersheds across the country in 2012, breaking the data down by polluter and by parent company. This report takes that data and matches it up with campaign contributions and lobbying reports to paint the picture of what massive resources the nation’s biggest polluters are able to put into stopping progress for our waterways.

Highlights from the report:

  • For each state, the report names a company that is dumping massive amounts of toxics into local waterway and also polluting our politics with political spending. Some examples include:
    • The Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation plant in Ottumwa, IA dumped 2,889,989 lbs. of toxic pollution into the Lower Des Moines River watershed in 2012. The following year, Cargill spent more than $1.4 million lobbying Congress.
    • In Rosemount, MN, the Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend Refinery dumped 739,982 lbs. of toxic chemicals into the watershed of the Rush and Vermillion Rivers. Flint Hills Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, the Koch brothers’ megacompany, which spent $10.4 million on lobbying in 2013 and a whopping $7,703,335 in campaign contributions in the 2014 election.
  • The ten parent companies with the most industrial dumping in 2012 spent nearly $30 million on lobbying in the following year and contributed more than $9.4 million to candidates for federal office in the 2014 election cycle. Between them, these polluters reported dumping more than 95 million pounds of toxic chemicals into waterways across the country.
  • In Pennsylvania, the state’s biggest polluter – US Steel’s plant in Clairton – made its biggest campaign contribution to Rep. Bill Shuster. Rep. Shuster, the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, held a field hearing in April of this year to allow industry to bash the clean water rule in Altoona, PA. No Obama administration officials or members of the public were allowed to testify.

The American Farm Bureau Federation – the single most vocal opponent of the clean water rule – spent more than $2 million on lobbying in the first three quarters of 2014 alone. The report also exposes the American Farm Bureau for what it really is, detailing its role as a