Leading U.S. companies in the banking, insurance, and technology sectors commonly employ lobbyists who also lobby for fossil fuel companies, according to a new 50-state survey by Global Energy Monitor (GEM). The survey includes multi-client lobbyists for companies engaged in upstream and midstream coal, oil, and gas operations.
Tagging these lobbyists’ other, non-fossil fuel clients by industry, the Fossil Fuel Lobbyist List reveals a political landscape in which thousands of companies and organizations being negatively impacted by the climate crisis continue to hire and rely on lobbyists who are promoting further dependence on fossil fuels.
The U.S. tech sector is paradoxically a leader in setting Net Zero goals and in hiring lobbyists who also work for the fossil fuel industry. GEM’s survey found Amazon employing such lobbyists in 28 states, followed by Facebook/Meta in 21 states, and Apple in 18 states.
Leading insurance companies commonly employ fossil fuel lobbyists in states that are among the worst-hit by the climate crisis, such as Florida and Louisiana. Overall, GEM’s survey found State Farm employing fossil fuel lobbyists in 17 states, followed by Allstate in 11 states, and Berkshire Hathaway in 10 states.
Among the top five U.S. banks, Bank of America employed fossil fuel lobbyists in ten states, followed by Wells Fargo in nine states, and Citigroup in seven states.
Top U.S. banks and insurance companies continue to employ fossil fuel lobbyists even as states divest and threaten to divest from financial institutions who are shifting their portfolios toward renewables.
Weak and poorly implemented state lobbyist disclosure laws are a major obstacle to tracking the activity and impact of state-level fossil fuel lobbyists. Many states do not require lobbyists to disclose the numbers of the bills on which they have lobbied, only general issue areas such as “Energy” or “Environment.”
The absence of a national database of state-level lobbyists has likewise shielded non-fossil fuel companies and organizations from being held accountable for hiring lobbyists who work for the fossil fuel industry.
“State lobbyist data hasn’t been rolled up in this way before, and some of these companies are going to be shocked by the extent to which they are working with fossil fuel lobbyists,” said James Browning, author of GEM’s report. “Top U.S. banks, insurance, and tech companies are undermining their own climate goals by hiring these lobbyists. Conversely, fossil fuel companies enjoy a halo effect from hiring lobbyists who work for mainstream banks and insurers, and benevolent organizations like schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.”
"This report makes clear that the influence industry's work for fossil fuel clients creates an unmanageable conflict of interest with companies that are eager to see climate action move forward on the state and national level,” said Duncan Meisel of Fossil Free Media. “Companies pursuing clean business plans need to adopt policies that prevent their agencies and firms from pushing the fossil fuel agenda."
The Fossil Fuel Lobbyist List uses data from GEM to identify more than 1,500 multi-client lobbyists for more than 600 fossil fuel companies engaged in upstream and midstream coal, oil, and gas operations, and more than 14,000 non-fossil fuel clients whom these lobbyists also represent.