Posted by: greeningwashington | April 20, 2009

Climate Change Lobbying

If you are a company/organization with a stake in policy outcomes in Washington and you want to ensure you are not at the losing end of legislation, you hire lobbyists. Lots and lots of them for that matter.

Before taking office, President Obama promised stricter regulations on lobbyists and limitations on the influence of lobbyists in the White House. However, even the ambitious, young president could not keep lobbyists at bay. The Obama administration employs one hundred and fifty staff members throughout government agencies who were former lobbyists. I am beginning to suspect most Washingtonians were lobbyists in their past lives.

Lobbyists are like God, in a way. They are omniscient, according to industry standards, omnipresent on Capitol Hill, and, depending on whom you talk to, they are just looking out for the misunderstood. Whether they possess divine-like abilities is debatable, but what is not is the fact that lobbyists are deeply rooted in our country’s history and politics.

According to the nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit organization OpenSecrets.org,  companies, labor unions, and other organizations spent over $3.24 billion in 2008 lobbying for control in Washington.

Who shells out the most for the biggest  piece of the legislative and regulatory pie? The Pharmaceuticals/Health Products industry. Is anyone surprised?

So what is the goal of hiring men and women to nag and woo government officials to death, or in some cases into Congressional ethics proceedings? Influence.

Corporations, labor unions, industry groups, and other organizations spend the $3.2 billion each year to gain the highest form of access to decision-makers in government ultimately to influence their thinking.

And we wonder why average Joe’s letter to his representatives goes unanswered.

The point of my babbling about lobbyists is to point out that no issue is left un-lobbied.  According to the Center for Public Integrity,  analysis shows that “more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in 2008”.  Their analysis also shows that signifies an “increase of more than 300 percent in the number of lobbyists on climate change in just five years, and means that Washington can now boast more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress”. Wow! What a statistic.

Could you imagine having the ‘Clean Coal’ person talking in your left ear about the ecological friendliness of coal, the Greenpeace person in the other discussing the destruction of national forests, and two ‘Big Oil’ people assaulting you from the front about offshore drilling?

I guess whichever one is offering to pay your expensive lunch bill would probably win. No?

The Center for Public Integrity’s website offers many important and interesting statistics on climate change lobbying. For instance, simple math shows that the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity spent $10.5 million in 2008 on climate change lobbying ; whereas, the Environmental Defense Action Fund spent a combined $1.3 million. I would say Lady Liberty’s scales are tipped.

If you are ever bored, you should check out the site. Lots of hidden, juicy information.

 

 

Climate Change Lobbying (c) Center for Public Integrity

Climate Change Lobbying (c) Center for Public Integrity

 

 

Until next time.

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