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...And corporations' power and influence on the American political process continues to consolidate in new and exciting ways! The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest lobbying group in the industry, has announced that it will start directly supporting specific oil-friendly candidates with its treasure chest of oily, oily money. This is troubling for a number of reasons ...First, it gives politicians yet another reason to remain in the pocket of Big Oil. Brad Johnson at the Wonk Room reports that the "API, whose membership includes oil giants like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, already spends tens of millions of dollars every year on lobbying, advertisements and Astroturf campaigns to support the the oil industry agenda." And what might that industry be? Johnson quotes Dan Weiss, who wrote that the API "wants to drill in fragile, sensitive places, keep government tax breaks, expand offshore drilling without reforms, and block global warming pollution reduction requirements."
Now, the lobbying giant will move beyond ad buys, faux-grassroots organizing, and yes, lobbying -- it will now offer its support to candidates it believes will protect its interests.
Second, it further widens the gulf between the API's stated responsibilities -- which laughably includes regulating the oil industry -- and the fulfillment of those responsibilities. Johnson explains that
"API's turn toward direct political donations is doubly problematic because, in addition to acting as the industry's chief lobbyists, the institute runs technical committees that set standards for the oil industry. In its official report, the commission that investigated the BP oil spill found that API was too "compromised" to be setting industry standards."And yet we continue to allow it to do so anyways -- guess who else might be keen on letting the API set the industry rules? The politicians that it helps get into office!
This is troubling news indeed.
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