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Campaign to Fix the Debt
Company Profile
Company Name Caterpillar
CEO Name Douglas Oberhelman
CEO Compensation $16,902,023
CEO Retirement Assets $15,088,189
Underfunded Company Pension -$4,785,000,000
Annual Company Revenue $60,138,000,000
Territorial Tax Break $4,550,000,000
Federal Lobbying/Political Donations ('09-'12*) $10,662,660
Click here for sources.
2011 data unless otherwise noted.
©2013 Center for Media and Democracy

Caterpillar is the world's largest maker of earthmoving machinery, such as bulldozers. Its products include construction, agricultural, mining, and logging machinery, and diesel and natural gas engines. It sells its equipment in 180 countries.[1]

In 2011, Caterpillar, Inc. reported $60,138,000,000 in sales and revenues.[2]

Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Caterpillar is part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt as of February 2013.

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Caterpillar has been a corporate funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)[3]. See ALEC Corporations for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.


Board of Directors

As of January 2013 [4]

Former board members include[5]

  • W. Frank Blount, Chairman and CEO of JI Ventures, Inc. (venture capital) and TTS Management Corporation (private equity management).


Group Presidents

  • Bradley M. Halverson
  • Stuart L. Levenick
  • Ed Rapp
  • D. James Umpleby
  • Steven H. Wunning

Former executives(and 2006 pay) include[6]

  • James W. Owens, Chairman and CEO, $14,818,621 (also exercised $3,215,228 in options)[7]
  • David B. Burritt, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, $1,966,688[8]
  • John S. Heller, Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • Gerald L. Shaheen, Divisional President, $5,373,275[9]
  • Gerard R. Vittecoq, Divisional President, $6,375,508 (also exercised $1,021,863 in options)[10]

Political contributions

Caterpillar gave $529,000 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election period through its political action committee - 17% to Democrats, 83% to Republicans. [11]


The company spent $2,320,000 for lobbying in 2006. $700,000 went to four outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists.[12]

Using Illegal Emission Control "Defeat Devices"

Caterpillar, along with five other companies, were selling truck engines with illegal emission control "defeat devices." The emission control equipment works during pre-sale emissions tests in order to pass the tests, but then is de-activated during highway driving. The engines then produce triple the legal amount of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx). In 1998 alone, 1.3 million extra tons of NOx were put into the atmosphere this way. [13]

Caterpillar bulldozers in Palestine

Caterpillar has been selling weaponised bulldozers to Israel which are used to tear down houses in Palestine. In 2003, Rachel Corrie of the U.S. was killed in Palestine by such a bulldozer when she was trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian house. Emad Mekay of Inter Press News Service writes, "The parents of a U.S. peace activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer built by the global machinery giant Caterpillar confronted the company Wednesday for the first time and urged shareholders at its annual meeting to end sales of 'weaponised bulldozers to Israel'.

"Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of the late Rachel Corrie, attended the meeting as proxy voters on behalf of Jewish and Christian institutional investors who have filed a resolution asking for greater corporate accountability from Caterpillar.

"Activists supporting the parents who lost their daughter in 2003 say that the company sells machinery to the Israeli army in violation of its corporate accountability pledge and knowing full well that the equipment will be used for the destruction of Palestinian homes and farms."[14]

Caterpillar and coal

It was reported in January 2011 that Caterpillar was making inroads in China's longwall coal mining. They will be supplying companies with automated longwall coal plow systems.[15]


Involvement in the Toxic Sludge Industry

Caterpillar manufactures equipment intended to handle toxic sludge, to dump it in landfills and to spread it on agricultural land.[16] Caterpillar, Inc. was an exhibitor at the 2011 BioCycle 11th Annual Conference on "Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling." BioCycle Magazine is a publication serving the interests of the sewage sludge industry.[17]

A list of just some of the hazardous chemicals and pathogens found in sludge can be found in the article Sludge contaminants. Sludge contaminants include Dioxins and Furans, Flame Retardants, Metals, Organochlorine Pesticides, 1,2-Dibromo-3-Chloropropane (DBCP), Naphthalene, Triclosan, Nonylphenols, Phthalates, Nanosilver, and thousands more substances. "Sewage is the mix of water and whatever wastes from domestic and industrial life are flushed into the sewer. ... We must note that, though the aim of sewage treatment is to produce clean water, it is never to produce 'clean' sludge. Indeed, the 'dirtier' the sludge - the more complete its concentration of the noxious wastes - the more the treatment has done its job. ... very waste produced in our society that can be got rid of down toilets and drains and that can also be got out of the sewage by a given treatment process will be in the sludge. Sludge is thus inevitably a noxious brew of vastly various and incompatible materials unpredictable in themselves and in the toxicity of their amalgamation, incalculably but certainly wildly dangerous to life." [18]

According to Sludge News, "[t]he policy of disposing of sludge by spreading it on agricultural land - a policy given the benign term 'land application' - has its inception in the Ocean Dumping ban of 1987. Before 1992, when the law went into effect, the practice had been, after extracting the sludge from the wastewater, to load it on barges and dump it 12, and later 106 miles off shore into the ocean. But many people who cared about life in the ocean knew that, wherever it was dumped, the sludge was causing vast dead moon-scapes on the ocean floor. New EPA regulations for 'land application' were promulgated in 1993. With the aid of heating and pelletizing and some slippery name morphs along the way, EPA claimed sludge could be transmogrified into 'compost' ... . But the land “application” of sewage sludge ... will pollute the whole chain of life for which soil is the base." [19]

Contact details

100 NE Adams Street
Peoria, IL 61629
Phone: 309-675-1000
Fax: 309-675-1182

Resources and articles

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

Related SourceWatch Resources

External Articles


  1. Profile, Hoovers, accessed July 2007.
  2. Caterpillar, "2011 Year In Review", organizational document, page 65.
  3. Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, "Corporations and Trades Associations that Fund ALEC," Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council, online report, 2003
  4. Caterpillar, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed January 2013.
  5. Board of Directors, accessed July 2007.
  6. Officers, accessed July 2007.
  7. James W Owens, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  8. David B Burritt, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  9. Gerald L Shaheen, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  10. Gerard R Vittecoq, Forbes, accessed February 2008.
  11. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed July 2007.
  12. Caterpillar lobbying expenses, Open Secrets.
  13. "Clean Air Villain of the Month", Clean Air Trust, August 2000.
  14. Emad Mekay, "Caterpillar Pressured Over 'Weaponised Bulldozers'", Inter Press News Service/CorpWatch, June 15, 2006.
  15. "Caterpillar makes further inroads into Chinese longwall coal" John Cadwell, Mineweb, January 2012.
  16. Caterpillar, Inc., Waste Landfills, corporate Equipment Selection and Application Guide, accessed November 3, 2011
  17. BioCycle, Exhibitor Directory, publisher's website, accessed November 3, 2011
  18. About Sewage Sludge,, Accessed June 18, 2010.
  19. About Sewage Sludge,, accessed June 18, 2010