Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Big Energy Strikes Back

Updated below:

Every time you pull up to a gas pump...remember. Every time you see some "feel good" big energy commercial on TV or in the newspaper...remember. The special interest energy people are desperate to prevent change. They want us to waste energy. They want business as usual. They want bloated, gas guzzling SUV's. They don't want energy efficient houses. They don't want mass transportation. They don't want the U.S. or any other country to be more efficient. They do not have your or my best interest in mind when they throw millions of dollars at those who want serious change in how we use energy. They care about one thing and one thing only and that is continuing their obscene profits. Remember.

America's oil, gas and coal industry has increased its lobbying budget by 50%, with key players spending $44.5m in the first three months of this year in an intense effort to cut off support for Barack Obama's plan to build a clean energy economy.

The spoiler campaign runs to hundreds of millions of dollars and involves industry front groups, lobbying firms, television, print and radio advertising, and donations to pivotal members of Congress. Its intention is to water down or kill off plans by the Democratic leadership to pass "cap and trade" legislation this year, which would place limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

A defeat for the bill would have global consequences. The international community is depending on America, as the world's biggest per capita polluter, to set out a firm plan for getting off dirty fuels in the months before crucial UN negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

Update: I spoke too soon...this from Grist...
Dirty energy interests have spent $79 million this year lobbying Congress

According to the latest lobbying data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry spent nearly $44.6 million lobbying Congress in just the first three months of this year, and ranked second only to the health care and pharmaceutical industries in total spending. Electric utilities spent $34.4 million, and businesses in the energy and natural resources sector as a whole spent $102.7 million.

To find out how much clean-energy businesses spent, you have to search down into the "miscellaneous energy" category, which includes wind, solar, biofuels, hydro, and other industries—and even then their combined spending only totaled $14.4 million. The American Wind Energy Association was the biggest renewable spender in that category, at $1.2 million. No other organization or company in the category topped $1 million.
Environmental groups have spent even less—just $4.7 million so far in 2009. The biggest spender among green groups was the Environmental Defense Action Fund, which laid out $300,000.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a staunch opponent of climate action, tops the list of individual spenders on all issues, at $15.5 million. Also on that list: ExxonMobil at $9.3 million, Chevron at $6.8 million, ConocoPhillips at $6 million, and General Electric at $4.8 million.

Of course, it would be wrong to assume that all of these big-energy spenders are lobbying against a climate bill. ConocoPhillips and GE, for example, are both members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, and ConocoPhillips’ senior vice president testified in support of the House climate and energy bill last month. But it does give you a sense of just how much renewable-energy groups and enviros are being outspent on the Hill.

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