How Much Did It Cost to Buy a Weak Climate Bill?


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Everything has a price, the ol' adage goes. The same goes for the weakened, now coal-and-big-agribusiness-friendly climate bill. And since lobbying firms are required to post their expenditures, we can actually get a pretty good idea of what the price tag it took to get it that way was. So how much does it cost to buy a limp climate bill that lets your industry off the hook, exactly? A few dozen or so million bucks sound about right? From Climatewire:

An early analysis of a portion of lobbying disclosures shows utilities racked up at least $12 million in expenses, while companies that produce oil and natural gas spent at least $13.9 million.
And that's just for the couple months before the climate bill came to a vote in late June. From January to March, electric utilities spent a massive $35 million, while oil and gas industries plopped down $44.5 million. And as you may know, the electric utilities' lobbying efforts were pretty successful--they managed to rearrange the bill's rules so that most of the permits would be given to them for free (originally 100% were to be auctioned off): "Several large electric utilities are the big winners in this climate bill," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a watchdog group. "Clearly, there is a reason why they spend this money on lobbying." Oil wasn't so lucky--they managed to get a far smaller amount of free permits. Nonetheless:
The spending reveals how heavily certain industries worked to influence House climate legislation, analysts said. Utilities, especially those that use coal, succeeded in winning help in that bill. With the debate now shifted to the Senate, analysts expect heavy persuasion efforts to continue.
And continue it will--the bill passing the House is barely half the battle--expect lobbyists to increase their assault this go round. Especially oil companies, which felt they'd been jilted in free permit allowances. But the environmental lobbies will certainly be parrying, upping their efforts as well:
"The coal industry is going to have to step up to keep what they got," said Kenneth Green, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. "The oil industry's going to have to step up to get what they didn't get. The environmentalists are going to be lobbying to tighten the standards."
And of course, there's a lot more that goes into getting a bill revised or winning votes than pure lobbying expenditures--there's re-election concerns, status jockeying, and occasionally maybe the genuine ambition to accomplish (or obstruct) a bill's initiatives. But it's still interesting to see the numbers, and the direct correlation between money spent and favors granted.

More on the Climate Bill:
Climate Bill: Everything You Need to Know
Is Climate Bill Really a Step Forward, Or Merely Marching in Place?

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Congress | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions

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