Who benefits most from the energy plan that Jeb Bush released Tuesday afternoon? The answer may be many of the presidential candidate’s top donors.
A number of the biggest donors to Bush’s campaign and to his super political action committee, Right to Rise, would benefit significantly from his proposed energy plan, which is friendly to oil and natural gas interests, as well as those interested in deregulation of the energy sector.
The former governor of Florida is focused on four main ideas with his new plan: lifting restrictions on oil and natural gas exports, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, decreasing energy regulations and deferring to states and tribes interested in exploiting energy resources on their land.
These are all positions heralded by conservative Republicans and ideas that would boost companies involved in the production or transportation of resources such as oil and natural gas. Bush’s super PAC, which raised $103 million in the first six months of the year, is made up of donors who have many connections to Wall Street and to large industry corporations.
Looking at the list of donors who have given $1 million or more to Right to Rise, at least 14 donors work for companies that would directly benefit from Bush’s proposed energy policies or work for companies that represent energy corporations or have connections to the energy sector.
One couple that includes two of the largest donors is Hushang Ansary and his wife Shahla Ansary. Hushang Ansary is the chairman and director of Stewart & Stevenson, a large manufacturer and distributor of products and services for industries that include oil and gas, marine, construction, power generation, transportation, material handling, mining and agricultural.
Other couple donors include Ray and Nancy Hunt of Hunt Oil Company, Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones of Chief Oil & Gas and Richard Kinder of the giant energy company Kinder Morgan, Inc. and his wife Nancy Kinder. Each of these six individuals also gave $1 million to the pro-Bush super PAC.
Bush’s energy plan involves lifting the current ban on crude oil exports to non-free trade countries, which he says would allow companies such as those owned by his donors to create new jobs and lower retail gasoline prices in two years. Kinder Morgan operates large gas networks and has pipelines similar to the Keystone XL pipeline, meaning that Bush’s approval of building Keystone XL is likely of particular interest.
Several executives from large hedge funds and private equity firms that have investments in energy or infrastructure companies are also Right to Rise donors. The candidate’s proposals to push back federal regulations are aimed at boosting the economy and investments in energy companies, Bush said in the description of his plan posted on his campaign website.
“Overregulation affects energy directly and indirectly,” Bush’s plan said. “Some new rules, such as overwriting state and tribal standards for hydraulic fracturing operations, directly discourage investment in domestic oil and gas operations. Other, broader regulations, such as [President Barack] Obama’s Carbon Rule, attempt to impose the president’s conception of how everyone should produce and consume energy.”
The Obama administration's carbon rule requires a 32 percent cut in power plant carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. This criticism of Obama’s climate change policies is a rallying cry for Republicans and proponents of the energy sector. Even some of Bush’s donors not directly related to the energy industry have reasons to like this policy. One corporate donor to the super PAC is a company called Jasper Reserve LLC. Its disclosure forms list a West Virginia address that belongs to a law firm with many coal companies as clients, according to Mother Jones.
Among the donors to Bush’s actual campaign are many executives from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Barclays, Bank of America and other banks. Other companies represented in Bush donors include CSX Corporation, a transportation company that works with energy producers, and Rooney Holdings, a construction management company that serves oil and gas, as well as environmental industries, according to its website.
And of course, NextEra Energy Inc., the company that owns Florida utility giant Florida Power and Light, is a donor to both Bush’s campaign and the super PAC. Bush is familiar with the company, as he supported a rate increase it was asking for after his tenure as governor.
Certainly not all of Bush’s donors are involved in the energy industry, but a striking number of the top donors are, which makes sense for a candidate who has been seen as the establishment pick and is showing himself to be a friend of the energy industry. Whether his new energy plan gets Bush more favor with conservative Republicans remains to be seen, but many of his big bank rollers should be happy after Tuesday’s announcement.