More than 150 colleges and universities employed fossil fuel lobbyists in 2022, including many that have moved to divest from fossil fuels, such as Dartmouth, California State, the University of Washington, the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins University.

New Hampshire

What do you get when you cross the Ivy League with Canadian tar sands oil? The answer, in New Hampshire, is the lobbying firm RYP Granite Strategies, which works for both Dartmouth College and Enbridge. Employing Enbridge’s lobbyist would also seem to be at odds with Dartmouth’s commitment to racial and envrionmental justice, given threats posed to indigenous communities by the company’s dilapidated and dangerous Line 5 oil pipeline in Michigan, as reported by Dartmouth’s own Native American Program.

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Smoke from Washington’s worsening wildfires is especially dangerous for children, yet eleven public school districts in the state employ fossil fuel lobbyists. The University of Washington recently pledged to divest from fossil fuels by 2027, yet continues to employ a lobbyist who works for Marathon Petroleum.

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The trustees of Johns Hopkins voted to divest from coal in 2017, but lobbyist listings for 2022-2023 show JHU sharing one or more Maryland lobbyists with two companies with substantial coal interests: NRG Energy and Holcim Participation, in addition to five companies with upstream and midstream oil and gas operations. And in Florida, the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital shared a lobbyist with coal-plant operator TECO Energy.

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California State University recently pledged to divest from fossil fuels, yet continues to employ lobbyists who work for Chevron and NextEra Energy. Chevron spent $4.9 million on lobbying in California in the first quarter of 2023, more than twice as much as the next fossil fuel company in California.

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In Omaha, the climate crisis is inspiring a series of climate strikes in the public school, yet in 2022, the Omaha Public Schools employed the same lobbyists as fossil fuel entities Black Hills Energy, Tallgrass Energy, and the Omaha Public Power District. Students are also pressuring the University of Nebraska to divest from fossil fuels. In 2022, the University’s lobbying firm also lobbied on behalf of fossil fuel companies Kiewit and Tenaska.

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