Ten senators, including those on critical committees involved in climate regulations, own between $403,023 and $1,201,000 in individual stocks of Big Oil companies, according to a database of personal financial disclosure reports maintained and analyzed by CREW. The vast majority—up to $1,106,000—of the Big Oil stock held by senators is held by Republicans.
Five of the ten senators who hold Big Oil stocks sit on committees tasked with environmental protection, climate issues and oversight of the agencies responsible for addressing the climate crisis.
While sitting on committees tasked with environmental protection or the climate makes the conflict of interest inherent in holding Big Oil stock as a U.S. senator more glaring, every senator has opportunities to vote on legislation that impacts Big Oil profits. For example, nine out of the ten senators who hold Big Oil stock voted on last summer’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which the White House calls “the most significant action Congress has taken on clean energy and climate change in the nation’s history.” The bill passed along party lines.
Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, reported holding the most Big Oil stock, with between $119,006 and $360,000 in Exxon and Chevron. Over the years, Moran has been a vocal critic of climate regulation; he voted to deny that human actions cause climate change, voted against the IRA, criticized the Green New Deal and promoted the Keystone XL fossil fuel pipeline. Moran serves on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over oceans, weather, climate change and natural disasters.
Nebraska Republican Senator Pete Ricketts also has a large Big Oil portfolio, and his is quite diversified. Ricketts holds stock in five different companies, with between $100,001 and $254,000 in Chevron, Exxon, Phillips 66, Valero and ConocoPhillips. Ricketts was just appointed to the Senate in January 2023, but has a record of opposing climate regulations as Nebraska governor, including calling the IRA part of President Biden’s “radical environmental agenda.” As a member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, which has jurisdiction over environmental and anti-pollution laws and oversees the Environmental Protection Agency, Ricketts is now in a position with particular power over the fossil fuel industry.
The ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, holds between $32,004 and $130,000 in Exxon, Chevron, Shell and Phillips 66 stocks. She is also a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee—putting her in the unique position of serving on both committees most relevant to Big Oil. She’s used those positions to push back on climate regulations, including recently attempting to kill an EPA clean power plan. She has also drawn scrutiny for introducing legislation that would have approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline, while owning stock in a company behind the project.
Perhaps the most extreme stance on the climate crisis belongs to Senator Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama, who has expressed a belief that God controls the climate and that the climate crisis is nothing more than “a talking point on the left that gives them an opportunity to scream and yell that this country is not going to last for 12 more years.” Tuberville has significant Big Oil stock holdings, with between $51,002 and $117,000 in Exxon, Marathon and Chevron stocks.
Not every Big Oil stock holder has been hostile to climate protections and regulations. Democratic Delaware Senator Thomas Carper holds between $3,000 and $45,000 in Chevron, Shell and TotalEnergies. Carper has introduced a resolution saying “human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis” and as the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, played a leading role in passing the IRA. Similarly, Nevada Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen also holds between $15,001 and $50,000 in Valero Energy, but voted for the IRA. And then there is Maine Senator Susan Collins who holds between $66,003 and $165,000 in Phillips 66 and ConocoPhillips stock. Collins voted against the IRA, but she has still cosponsored bills that would cap carbon emissions and fight climate change.
Three other Republican senators also hold Big Oil stocks: Louisiana Senator John Kennedy holds between $15,001 and $50,000 in Exxon, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan holds between $1,001 and $15,000 in Chevron and Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty holds between $1,001 and $15,000 in Phillips 66.