A recent article in the Wall Street Journal notes that several key U.S. Democrats have holdings in companies that stand to benefit from proposed climate bills. One would think that politics already has enough potential conflicts of interest without a conflict such as this. As the Wall Street Journal Environmental Capital Blog puts it:

Was it naïve to think that all the back-and-forth over the energy and climate bill was fundamentally a battle over the interests of constituents, be they in the oil patch in Texas, coal country in the Midwest, or environmentally-conscious California?

What’s especially eye-opening (at least for folks like us that don’t prowl the thickets of congressional ethics rules) is this: “It is legal for lawmakers to own shares in companies affected by their legislation. House and Senate ethics laws allow members of Congress to hold a financial interest in a company unless a law they pass would benefit only themselves.”

At a time when the legislation Congress is considering would dramatically overhaul the way the whole country uses energy—with clear winners and losers as a result of the new laws—does it seem odd the lawmakers have a personal stake in the outcome, small as it may be?