Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren received royalty payments in 2017 from one of the largest natural gas producers in the nation, according to tax return documents her campaign released Wednesday.
Warren received $121 in royalty payments in 2017 from Chesapeake Operating, LLC, a subsidiary company of Chesapeake Energy, according to her tax return. Chesapeake is the second-largest natural gas producer in the nation behind Exxon Mobil and is the most active driller of new gas wells in the country.
Chesapeake has been hit with over $17 million in fines relating to environmental and leasing violations since 2007, the largest being a $3.2 million fine levied in 2013 after one of its subsidiary companies dumped unauthorized materials into dozens of streams and wetlands in West Virginia.
The natural gas royalties Warren collected in 2017 is negligible in comparison to her estimated net worth of between $3.7 and $10 million, however, the existence of the Democrat’s financial ties with Chesapeake is curious considering her aggressive stance against the energy industry. (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren’s Income Has Skyrocketed Since She Entered The Senate In 2013)
Warren called out major oil companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP for raking in billions in profits, during a 2015 speech before climate and labor activist where she stressed that government regulation of the energy industry was necessary to prevent companies from “dumping filth in the river or spewing poisons in the air.”
Notably absent from her speech was mention of Chesapeake, which operates nearly 23,000 oil and natural gas wells across the country. The company signs lease agreements with landowners prior to opening a new drill site and pays royalties to leaseholders, like Warren, typically as a percentage of the revenue earned from the sale of the gas drilled.
Warren’s financial ties to Chesapeake date back to before her entrance to the Senate in 2013, according to her tax returns.
She reported earning $204 in royalties from Chesapeake in 2012 and a combined $899 in royalties from “gas wells” from 2008 to 2011.
Warren is up for re-election in the Senate in November, but her campaign’s move to publish 10 years of her tax returns this week is being considered a precursor to a potential 2020 presidential bid, CNBC reported.
Warren did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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