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On November 20, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act in a 235-to-187 vote. The bill would prevent the Department of the Interior from regulating hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, in states that have passed any laws of their own regarding the controversial practice — regardless of how well those laws protect citizens or the environment.

Completely avoiding federal regulation would be a boon to the fracking industry, so — as one might expect — that industry flexed its financial muscles in an effort to guarantee its preferred outcome. As Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reports, the fracking industry has donated $12.8 million in campaign contributions to the congressmembers who voted in favor of the bill, and just $1.5 million to the congressmembers who voted against it.

CREW chart

Overall, contributions from the fracking industry to congressional candidates have increased by 180 percent between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles.

In this specific instance, however, the industry won’t receive much bang for its buck. The Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to bring the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act to the floor, and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk.

To learn more about how the fracking industry is influencing Congress, read CREW’s new report: Natural Cash.

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Steve Bannon

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As expected, former President Donald Trump pardoned a long list of cronies during his final weeks in office, including Paul Manafort, his former 2016 campaign manager, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Andrew Weissmann, who served as a lead prosecutor for then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office from 2017-2019, offers a legal analysis and critique of Trump's "abuse of the pardon power" in an article for Just Security.

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