Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. heads to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (AP)

Who are polluters' best friends in Congress?

A report names 15 members of Congress who have prevented the EPA from improving coal power plant standards

Natasha Lennard
July 18, 2011 10:59PM (UTC)

A Greenpeace report released Monday names 15 Congress members who have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from improving pollution standards in coal-fired power plants.

The report, "Polluting Democracy: Coal Plays Dirty on the Hill," reveals that these Congress members are also among the biggest recipients of funding from the fossil fuel industry on the Hill.


Greenpeace notes, "this report provides a sampling of the actions of a bipartisan cadre of 15 politicians, who are among those in the House of Representatives working for America’s dirty and decrepit coal-fired power industry. These 15 members have tried to stop EPA from modernizing standards for pollutants that come predominantly from coal-fired power plants, including mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, greenhouse gases, and coal ash."

Among the 15 politicians pointed out by Greenpeace, these five caught our eye:

  • Presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). The fossil fuel industry has given Bachmann $131,980 since the 2006 election season. Bachmann voted to stop EPA from reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement plants; she asked EPA not to treat coal ash as hazardous. She is cosponsoring a bill Coal Caucus members are pushing to strip EPA’s budget to develop any protections from coal ash.
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The Fossil fuel industry has given Cantor $655,547 since the 2000 election season. Cantor voted yes to an amendment in the budget bill that would stop EPA from developing protections from coal ash pollution. He voted yes to keep EPA from making coal companies reduce global warming pollution. He voted three times in support of coal-industry amendments on mountaintop removal mining.
  • Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The fossil fuel industry has given Whitfield $426,447 since the 1998 election season. He has fought EPA safeguards while the three coal plants in Whitfield's district have caused 186 deaths per year. None of these three plants in Whitfield's district have installed mercury controls.
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The fossil fuel industry has given Upton $541,450 since the 1998 election season. He sponsored and pushed through his committee a bill to keep EPA from making coal companies reduce global warming pollution.
  • Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Il.) Co-Chair of the Congressional Coal Caucus. Costello has received $168,650 since the 1998 election season from the fossil fuel industry. Coal Caucus members are threatening with a bill to strip EPA’s budget to reduce mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Fred Upton as a representative from Minnesota.



Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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