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!

Up Next

One Cool Thing: Green Halloween

One Cool Thing: Green Halloween

Spooky season is almost over, how does your everyday werewolf or vampire keep it green this Halloween?  While the holiday can easily be filled with candy wrappers, disposable decorations, and costumes your kid will likely never wear again, the internet has some “tricks” to keep your celebrations environmentally friendly.   EcoWatch’s list of best methods […]

Continue Reading 106 words
One Cool Thing: Going for the Climate Gold

One Cool Thing: Going for the Climate Gold

This past July, all eyes were on Tokyo when over 10,000 Olympians from 206 nations descended on the city to make history. Despite a decrease in carbon emissions due to COVID-19 and fewer traveling spectators, the games still produced 2.3 million tons of CO2.    In 2021, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledged to reduce […]

Continue Reading 144 words
One Cool Thing: Fighting the Pandemic Plastic Boom

One Cool Thing: Fighting the Pandemic Plastic Boom

Startups across the country are on a mission to provide sustainable food packaging options and close the plastic loop, especially prompted by the pandemic take-out boom. Over 70% of Americans order delivery one to three times a week, creating hundreds of billions of single-use bowls, bags, utensils, and more.   But some innovative companies have […]

Continue Reading 168 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.