Mulling Run Against Green New Deal Sponsor Ed Markey, Joe Kennedy Is Heavily Invested in Fossil Fuels

Read time: 4 mins
Rep. Joe Kennedy, Sarah McBride

By Donald Shaw, Sludge. This story originally appeared in Sludge. It is republished here as part of DeSmog's partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), the grandson of former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, has filed paperwork to challenge Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the Senate’s most progressive members and the chief sponsor of the Senate version of the Green New Deal resolution.

I hear the folks who say I should wait my turn, but with due respect — I’m not sure this is a moment for waiting,” Kennedy wrote in an August 26 Facebook post. “I don’t think our democratic process promises anyone a turn. What it does promise is the chance for anyone to earn it — if we think we have something to offer and are willing to put ourselves and our ideas out there.” 

If Kennedy were to officially enter the race he would instantly be the favorite, with polls showing Kennedy with a massive lead over Markey in a hypothetical run. 

As he considers whether to enter the race, Kennedy owns as much as $1.75 million worth of stock in the fossil fuel industry, including oil and gas companies that see Markey’s Green New Deal as an existential threat, according to a Sludge review of financial disclosure documents. 

Kennedy’s holdings, which are contained in inherited family trusts, include Chevron stock worth between $100,001 and $250,000, ExxonMobil stock worth between $500,002 and $1,000,000, and $15,001 to $50,000 worth of stock in Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services provider. Kennedy also owns $180,004 to $450,000 worth of stock in NextEra Energy, a utility company that owns a coal- and natural gas-burning Florida power company.

Chevron and ExxonMobil have been linked to efforts to fight the Green New Deal. Chevron donated $1.75 million during the 2018 election cycle to a super PAC that ran attack ads against Democrats for their support of the Green New Deal. ExxonMobil is a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council, a think tank that is promoting a carbon tax policy that its leadership says is a more efficient and less expensive alternative to the Green New Deal. Climate scientists have called the carbon tax proposal an insufficient response to the climate crisis.   

In December 2018, Kennedy’s press secretary, Dan Black, told Sludge that “Congressman Kennedy’s family investments play no role in his decision-making in Congress.” Kennedy is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution in the House and a signatory of the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, a commitment to not knowingly take campaign contributions from PACs, lobbyists, and executives in the fossil fuel industry. 

Green New Deal author Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Markey on Sept. 13. “In a time right now, when we have to have conversations not just about holding this administration accountable but changing the Democratic Party for the future, Ed Markey has a very critical role in making sure that climate change, as well as a bevy of other issues—health care and beyond—are critical core issues in how we fight for working people and working families in the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a video.

Markey has also been endorsed by fellow Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. “We need Ed Markey in the Senate now more than ever,” Warren said in a video posted by Markey’s campaign.

Kennedy has been endorsed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a centrist who was co-chair of the conservative Blue Dog PAC while she was a House representative. Sinema was one of three Democrats to vote against Markey’s Green New Deal resolution in March.  

Main image: Rep. Joe Kennedy and Sarah McBride, author of Tomorrow Will Be Different, in 2018. and Credit: Ted EytanCC BY-SA 2.0

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