Opinion: Follow the money (and the trail of oil)

The trail of oil and associated money leads from the Gulf of Mexico to Congress.

During the past 18 months, oil, gas and coal companies spent $543 million lobbying against climate change legislation and other environmental laws

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just in case you were wondering who is looking out for your interests in Congress, you should know that the oil, gas, and coal industries spent a total of $543 million lobbying against climate change legislation and in general trying to block any legislation that might improve the environment.

Here are just a few of the lobbying efforts, as outlined by the Center for American Progress.

Lobby reports show that oil companies lobbied on a number of clean energy and global-warming-related issues. These included:

The largest trade association working to defeat clean energy and global warming legislation is the the Chamber of Commerce, which spent nearly $190 million during the past 18 months. As I previously reported, the chamber has also sued the EPA to try and prevent any meaningful regulation of greenhouse gases.

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor owned utilities spent $18 million — that’s 1 million dollars a month — lobbying on global warming legislation. EEI was occasionally supportive of some proposals, but it strongly advocates halting EPA from reducing global warming pollution.

The American Petroleum Institute, or API—the trade association and lobbying arm for the biggest oil and gas producers—spent $11 million to lobby Congress to defeat pollution reductions and maintain their tax loopholes.

The study by the center found that the top 35 spending companies and trade associations invested more than $500 million in lobbying and campaign contributions from January 2009 to June 2010 to defeat clean energy legislation.

The study includes data on lobbying and campaign contributions by the 20 biggest-spending oil, mining, and electric utility companies. They shelled out $242 million on lobbying from January 2009 to June 2010. Fifteen trade associations that generally oppose clean energy policies spent another $290 million during this time—for a combined total of $1,800 in lobby expenditures a day for every single senator and representative.

Not surprisingly, six of the seven companies with the largest lobbying expenditures are Big Oil companies — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP, Koch Industries, and Shell. Their 18-month lobbying expenditures total $143 million. In addition, the American Petroleum Institute, a Big Oil ally, spent $11 million to lobby Congress to defeat pollution reductions and maintain tax loopholes, along with another $126 million on television ads just this year alone.

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2 thoughts on “Opinion: Follow the money (and the trail of oil)

  1. Re: Opinion: Follow the money (and the trail of oil)
    Hey, that’s our money they’re using to lobby. Oil prices will continue to go up for us with this year’s Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to donate to campaigns without disclosing who is donating.

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