DITCHED: Dark Money and Political Influence with Dr. Leah Stokes

In the United States, electric utilities are an outsized influence on our political process. Utilities can be a force for good but as UC Santa Barbara professor Leah Stokes explained to ODP this past spring, “There is an abundance of shadow, dark money, and nonprofits groups whose missions’ are to stifle clean energy progress and I think this is one way the utilities have been able to so successful and discreetly amassed political power and influence historically.” 

This paradigm needs to change, but what are the obstacles? That’s the conversation that Political Climate podcast host Julia Pyper had with Dr. Stokes in this week’s episode of the DITCHED miniseries:

In the face of a mounting climate crisis, financial institutions are re-evaluating their relationships with coal, gas and oil. But while the divestment movement is picking up speed, it isn’t on a one way street. 

There is still lots of money flowing into fossil fuels through various public and private channels. At the same time, fossil fuel interests are spending heavily to influence policy that protects their assets and future growth opportunities. 

In this episode, we speak to Leah Stokes, assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara about her research on how fossil fuel companies and electric utilities are slowing the shift away from polluting resources.

This is the fourth episode in the Political Climate miniseries called DITCHED: fossil fuels, money flows and the greening of finance. Listen and subscribe to Political Climate wherever you get podcasts!

Listen to the full episode here. 

Recommended reading:

  • Guardian: How the oil industry has spent billions to control the climate change conversation
  • Sierra: Bailout: Billions of Dollars of Federal COVID-19 Relief Money Flow to the Oil Industry
  • E&E: Big Oil, meet Big Green  
  • Bloomberg: Utilities Are Slowing Down the Clean Energy Transition
  • S&P: Ohio bribery scandal increases scrutiny of how utilities use ‘dark money’ groups
  • Energy and Policy Institute: Paying for Utility Politics
  • Short Circuiting Policy

Catch all DITCHED episodes in addition to our regular Thursday shows! Listen and subscribe to Political Climate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts!

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