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Report: Oil and gas companies have extensive ties to police groups

Report: Oil and gas companies have extensive ties to police groups
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Major fossil fuel and utility companies as well as financial institutions have contributed to law enforcement organizations for years, according to a report published Monday. 

The report from the left-leaning Public Accountability Initiative and its research arm LittleSis highlight contributions to police organizations in big cities from oil giants including Chevron, Marathon and Shell. 

Chevron, for example, has sponsored the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation and the Houston Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, the group says. A Chevron staffer is also a board member of the Houston Police Foundation.

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A spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the company is “committed to being a good neighbor in the communities where we operate” and reviews its sponsorships each year. 

“Chevron invests millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on numerous programs and partnerships, helping communities improve their lives, achieve their aspirations and meet their full potential,” Veronica Flores-Paniagua said. “We review our sponsorships and social investments annually to ensure our commitments are appropriately serving our communities.”

Marathon, meanwhile, is a sponsor of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, a local police group, and Marathon’s security coordinator is on the foundation's board of trustees.

Marathon defended its ties as supporting law enforcement.

"It is our privilege to satisfy the community’s direct requests for more local neighborhood patrols by first responders, through our own contributions and support for fund-raising efforts," the company said in a statement. "We also support the Women in Blue event which recognizes the shining examples of women’s leadership amongst first responders."

Shell is listed as a “featured partner" of the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation and is also a sponsor of the Houston Police Department’s mounted patrol.

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The report notes that Americans of color, who are victims of police brutality at higher rates than the general population, are also disproportionately impacted by pollution. 

“This symbiotic relationship between the fossil fuel industry and police often means that the companies that are polluting Black and Brown communities ... are the same ones that are aligned with and propping up police forces in these same cities,” it says. 

“This is why divesting from fossil fuels and fighting to end environmental racism goes hand in hand with defunding the police in the fight for racial justice and reinvestment in Black and Brown communities,” it continues. 

The Public Accountability Initiative particularly points to a Marathon facility in Detroit, a city with one of the country’s largest Black populations, that has been accused of environmental violations, though the company has denied wrongdoing. 

"The facility has operated at more than 40 percent below the facility’s yearly permitted emission levels for the past 15 years," Marathon told The Hill in a statement.

The report notes that utilities and banks have also funded police organizations. 

It found that Exelon, the country’s largest utility, and its subsidiaries have donated to police foundations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C. 

An Exelon spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that it gave $52 million to community nonprofits last year, including some to police departments.

"A fraction of our total giving went to police departments through small, safety focused grants for things such as crash investigations, emergency scene safety improvements, K-9 search and rescue operations, and other programs." the spokesperson said.

The report also noted contributions to police groups from banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which provide funding for fossil fuel companies.