Trevor Rees-Jones

Founder and Chairman of Chief Oil & Gas

Dallas-based Rees-Jones is a fracking pioneer and exploratory driller.

In 2014 he was listed # 277 on Forbes' list of richest billionaires.

"When it comes to business he plays for blood," one of his former financial backers said.




Chief Oil & Gas is one of the largest fracking companies in Pennsylvania. In 2010, Rees-Jones gave Tom Corbett a $50,000 contribution for his campaign for governor of Pennsylvania. After he won, Corbett proposed a gas extraction "impact fee" that is just one-fifth of rates typically paid by fracking companies in most states. Corbett also tried to soften opposition to fracking by forming a Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, whose members included Terry Bossert, a Chief government affairs executive.

During the 2011-2012 election cycle, Rees-Jones gave over $600,000 in state contributions and another $300,000 in federal contributions. But Rees-Jones' biggest donations have been to Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC, including $2 million during the 2010 cycle.

Living in an $11 million mansion, Rees-Jones told the Dallas business lifestyle magazine D CEO that he was "riding at a pretty high altitude."  His foundation also gave $1.2 million in 2012 to construct energy-efficient affordable housing in West Dallas.  Meanwhile, residents near his company's fracking operations in Pennsylvania say their drinking water is polluted and their property values are ruined.


Gary Chouest

CEO and President of Edison Chouest Offshore

Edison Chouest Offshore is a Louisiana-based company that builds ships used for oil exploration, oil rig construction and servicing, oil spill response and other industrial uses. 



Chouest is a major political donor, maxing out his yearly federal contributions by giving mostly to senators and representatives from Louisiana and Alaska. 

Chouest has also contributed to key congressional committee members of both parties, including Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, which oversees federal ship building contracts.

Edison Chouest Offshore received federal contracts (almost exclusively from the Navy) worth over $100 million in 2012 alone, and 278 contracts worth over $445 million since 2000. (See 

Chouest's strategically targeted giving strategy in the 2007-2008 election cycle also resulted in a $132,500 contribution to Bobby Jindal's campaign for Governor of Louisiana. Shortly after Jindal was elected, one of the first state contracts for economic development went to Edison Chouest to help build a new shipyard.

Christopher Cline

Lead Investor, Foresight Energy LLC (Coal)

Cline was described by Bloomberg as the "New King Coal" in 2010, for making a fortune off investments in Illinois coal mines. 

He is buying locomotives, building a port on the Ohio River and designing his own ships to export coal abroad. 

Cline also owns The Cline Group, a parent company to Hillsboro Energy and Gogebic Taconite.  


In 2013, Foresight proposed a giant open-pit taconite (a type of iron ore) mine that would drain heavy metals and other pollutants into the Great Lakes, just six miles from territory owned by the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indian Tribe. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that would streamline the mine permitting process in 2013.  Republican State Senator Dale Schultz, who voted against the bill, said that, if his fellow Republican Senators "understood biology" they wouldn't have voted for the bill.

Cline's company – Foresight – gave $500,000 during the 2011-2012 election cycle, primarily to state-level campaigns and candidates.

Cline's friend Sidney Green died in 2002 when the roof collapsed in one of Cline's mines. Cline was fined $45,500. 

Cline refers to climate denier Christopher Monckton as the most knowledgeable expert he knows on global warming.



"We in the industry probably do the worst job in the world getting out the story of the good lives we're helping people live," Cline says. "Changing that is certainly a big interest of mine."

Although Cline does not deny that climate change is real, Bloomberg reported that he was so annoyed that his children's teachers aired Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" in class that he asked them to distribute literature showing that climate change may be caused by clusters of sunspots or the Earth wobbling on its axis

Cline on Massey Energy's Don Blankenship: "Don thinks his convictions are morally correct and follows them...In some ways, people should admire it." 



Robert Rowling

Founder of TRT Holdings (owners of Tana Exploration Co.)

Rowling made $476.5 million by selling his father's company, Tana Oil and Gas, to Texaco in 1989. Soon after, he founded TRT Holdings, a private holding company that owns Omni Hotels, Gold's Gym International,  and Tana Exploration Co. (a Texas-based oil and gas company), along with other companies and investments, including "a fifth of downtown Corpus Christi."  


Tana Exploration was one of many companies that received environmental-impact-study waivers from the Interior Department's Mineral Management Services for Gulf of Mexico drilling projects — after BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform exploded in April, 2010.  

Tana is among the companies that received the most Gulf of Mexico drilling permits in the first half of 2013, according to Bloomberg.

In the 2011-2012 election cycle Rowling contributed over $6 million to federal candidates and Super PACs, in addition to over $300,000 to state politicians. Rowling gave $3.5 million dollars to American Crossroads, the ultra-conservative super PAC run by Karl Rove.  TRT Holdings (the company) gave another $2.5 million to American Crossroads.

In 2006, Tana was fined $165,000 after a leak resulted when safety valves were improperly bypassed.

Curtis W. Mewbourne

Founder and CEO of Mewbourne Oil Company

Mewbourne Oil Company is one of the most active oil and gas companies in the Anadarko (OK) and Permian (TX) basins.



Curtis Mewbourne is a big proponent of fracking, and his company uses the process regularly in all 14 of its drilling rigs.

In the 2012 election cycle Mewbourne Oil gave over $700,000 to conservative candidates, PACs and parties. Mewbourne himself gave another $316,299 in federal contributions and $830,000 in state contributions during the same election cycle.

Mewbourne's biggest state contribution to an individual in 2011-2012 was $100,000 to Greg Abbot, the Attorney General of Texas, who once claimed that climate scientists are "colluding and scheming" activists who manipulate their findings to "advance what they want the science to be."

Mewbourne also gave $100,000 to Barry Smitherman's campaign for Texas attorney general. In a November 2013 email to a fellow Republican, Smitherman, the chair of the Texas Railroad Commission (which regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas), once wrote: "I have been battling this global warming hoax for 6 years now. The earth is not warming..." 

James C. Flores

CEO and President of Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas

Flores is a board member of Vulcan Energy Corp., McMoRan Exploration, America's Natural Gas Alliance, and a member of the Natural Petroleum Council.

Flores was chairman and CEO of Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP) before it was acquired by Freeport-McMoRan in 2013.  

Flores was paid $3,065,985 in 2013. 


While Flores was the CEO of PXP, the company paid company board member Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat $400,000, the same year that Groat conducted a fracking impact study for the University of Texas Austin's Energy Institute. The region Groat studied was being actively drilled by the company.   In early 2012, Groat made headlines when he claimed there was no proof linking fracking and groundwater contamination.

During the 2011-2012 election cycle Flores made over $350,000 in federal contributions, including over $60,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

Jeffery Hildebrand

Founder, chairman, and CEO of Hilcorp Energy

Hilcorp's business is oil and gas exploration and development, including fracking operations in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions.


Hilcorp has circumvented landowners' resistance to fracking in Pennsylvania through a legal strategy called "forced pooling," which forces those holding out to lease their land to join others that have given their consent.

Ohio authorities shut down one of Hilcorp's fracking operations in March, 2014 after it was linked to magnitude 2.6 and 3.0 earthquakes.

Hildebrand sold his company's stake in the Eagle Ford (TX) shale play to Marathon Oil for $1.4 billion in 2011, using the money to invest in the Cook Inlet, Alaska oil fields. In an apparent rush to profit from its new investments, the company soon ran afoul of the law, later paying a $115,000 civil penalty for failing to notify the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission about changes to its drilling plans that were not in its permit. "The aggressiveness with which Hilcorp is moving forward with operations appears to be contributing to regulatory compliance issues," the commissions said in its 4/10/13 order.  Meanwhile, fishermen concerned about decreasing salmon stock due to "the loss and degradation of freshwater habitat" accused the state's Department of Fish and Game of illegally giving the company permits to fill a critical habitat area called Redoubt Bay as part of its oil storage operations.

In 2012 EPA fined Hilcorp $26,100 for "failing to address secondary containment for spilled gasoline and collection of oil discharges from its Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana offshore drilling operations.

During the 2011-2012 election cycle, Hildebrand gave nearly $700,000 to federal candidates and super PACs, including a $450,000 contribution to Mitt Romney's Restore Our Future super PAC. He was also a big supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

Robert Murray

CEO and founder of Murray Energy Corporation, a coal mining company

Murray is a director of the National Mining Association, the American Coal Foundation, and the National Coal Council.


Murray Energy is the 71st greatest global warming polluter of all time.

While Murray has emphasized his company's concern for worker health and safety, from 2000 to 2009 the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Murray Energy for over 7,700 "significant" violations resulting in $18 million in fines, including a record $1.8 million fine for a 2007 collapse at the company’s Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, which killed six miners and three rescue workers. After the collapse, Murray offered to let miners relocate to other mines, but only if they took a pay cut.  A 2008 MSHA report concluded the mine was “destined to fail” because the company didn’t report early warning signs.

Murray gave over $230,000 to conservative candidates and PACs in the 2012 election cycle, including $30,000 to House Speaker John Boehner and $5,000 to Wisconsin's union-busting governor, Republican Scott Walker.

In 2012 Murray hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Mitt Romney, making employee attendance mandatory without pay.

Days after Obama's 2012 re-election, Murray fired 163 of his employees, claiming Obama's "war on coal" made it impossible for new coal plants and jobs to thrive. 

Murray announced that in August 2014, over 1,000 ex-miners would lose their promised health benefits, blaming Obama's "war on coal."

In 2013, Murray unsuccessfully sued blogger Mike Stark for defamation and invasion of privacy after the blogger published an article on Huffington Post highlighting a $30,000 donation that Murray made to Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign.

In 2014, Murray appointed climate denier Steve Milloy to be the company's Director of External Policy and Strategy. 

In March 2014 Murray sued the EPA, claiming that the agency's air pollution regulations are illegally causing coal mines to shut down.  



Murray has described global warming as "hysterical global goofiness." 

In his 2007 testimony before Congress, Murray said, "The hysterical and out-of-control climate change or global warming issue, and the legislation that you have proposed, will lead to the deterioration of the American standard of living and the accelerated exportation of more of our jobs to China and other developing countries, which have repeatedly advised, as recent (sic) as last week, that they will not limit their carbon dioxide emissions."

Referring to Rachel Carson: "She and her environmental followers killed millions of human beings around the world with the ban on DDT, which has since been found by the World Health Organization to be very safe to humans in controlling global epidemics."

Explaining employee benefit cuts: "Murray Energy's inability to provide these benefits is, in part, due to the destruction of the coal industry, including our markets, by the Obama Administration and its appointees and supporters, who have eliminated the livelihoods of thousands of coal miners, and their families, by the forced closing of 392 coal-fired electric power plants in America, now and in the immediate future." 

Bennett Hatfield

President and CEO of Patriot Coal

Hatfield previously served as President of Arch Coal's Eastern Operations, as well as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Massey Energy, which he joined in 1979. 


St. Louis-based Patriot Coal is a 2007 spin-off of Peabody Energy.

Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July 2012, saying coal demand was at a 24-year low.  Critics say Peabody created Patriot Coal in order to dump some eastern coal assets and cut its pension and retiree-health-care obligations for 22,000 retired miners and their dependents. Union leaders accused Peabody of setting Patriot up to fail in order to avoid paying out miners affected with black lung and other diseases. In St. Louis, where Peabody is based, a judge later approved Patriot's request to offload $1.5 billion in retiree health obligations. The company later reached an agreement with the United Mine Workers, along with Peabody, to create a $400 million benefits fund for retirees. 

But before the agreement was reached, Hatfield raked in an annual salary of almost $800,000, and the company paid its executives $6.9 million in performance and retention bonuses.

On November 14, 2012 Patriot Coal agreed to stop all mountaintop removal in Central Appalachia through a joint announcement with the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

Hatfield made over $152,000 in federal election contributions during the 2011-12 election cycle, including $30,000 to the Romney Victory Fund. During the same time Patriot Coal spent $3.3 million lobbying Congress on mine safety and other issues.

Through his current and previous positions, Hatfield has been associated with some of the largest carbon polluters in history, including Peabody Energy (13th), Arch Coal (30th) and Massey (47th).

Richard Gilliam

Founder and Chairman of Cumberland Resources

Gilliam graduated from University of Virginia's College at Wise, a community located in southwestern Virginia's coal country. Gilliam founded Cumberland Resources, later selling it to Massey Energy.


Richard Gilliam founded the Virginia-based coal mining company and sold it to Massey Energy in 2010 for $960 million, part of the proceeds of which he distributed to his employees.  Gilliam is currently a board director for Endurance Gold Corp. (Vancouver, CA).

Gilliam and his wife Leslie have contributed to conservative front groups and think tanks supported by Charles and David Koch. The Giliams attended the Koch brothers' secretive strategy retreat in June, 2010, according to Mother Jones magazine.

Gilliam is a major donor to Republican candidates and committees. In 2010, Gilliam ranked #33 among top individual contributors to federal campaigns, with all $525,920 going to Republican candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In 2012, Gilliam spent $1,202,800, including $750,000 to Karl Rove's American Crossroads PAC and $250,000 to Mitt Romney's Restore Our Future PAC.

Gilliam also gave $100,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Virginia's Bob McConnell, who was later indicted on unrelated corruption charges. Marvin Gilliam gave McConnell another $75,000. Richard Gilliam was co-chair of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s inauguration in 2009. McDonnell, in turn, appointed family members to university boards.

Gilliam supports the Gilliam Center for Free Enterprise Leadership at James Madison University.

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