The 5.6 Million Reasons Behind GOP Senators' Letter To Obama

January 27, 2012 11:01 am ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Oil Rig

On Tuesday during the State of the Union address, President Obama stated that despite an eight-year high in American oil production, he would still like to focus on expanding the domestic energy industry. Apparently that wasn't enough for 22 Republican senators, who on Wednesday penned a letter to Obama asking him to "re-consider" his decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and open "more access to both onshore and offshore resources." From the letter:

Finally, let us be clear in our disappointment in the recent decision to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is clearly in our national interest. Considering the potential for supply disruptions in the coming year, the federal government could well be facing price constraints that are a result of international conflicts, for example, in the Strait of Hormuz. It would be unfortunate if the only tool available to calm markets is further sales from our strategic reserves. Providing more access to both onshore and offshore resources and construction of a strategic pipeline from Canada are clear ways forward. We urge you to re-consider this decision and provide a clear path forward for increasing domestic production and transporting new energy supplies.  

The oil industry seems to be doing pretty well — domestic oil production is at its highest level since 2003 and, as of August, more rigs are drilling for oil in the United States than any time since 1987. But it's easy to see why these senators would like to keep oil profits soaring even higher. In addition to the $145 million the oil and gas industries spent lobbying Congress in the last year alone, the industry has contributed directly to every single member who signed the letter to President Obama — over $5.6 million in total between 2007 and 2012. One stand-out, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), has received over $1 million from the oil and gas sectors this cycle alone. The full list of signees and their respective totals are below.