Common Cause

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Mary Boyle, (202) 736-5770

New Report on Energy Industry Details Contributions and Lobbying Figures, Shows Industry Spent Nearly $3 Billion This Decade

Spent $3.2 Million a Day Lobbying Congress Through First Quarter of 2010 Highlights Need for Fair Elections

WASHINGTON - Energy companies are pumping billions of dollars into the nation's
political system to help maintain US dependence on their products,
according to a new Common Cause report released today.

Since 2000, the energy industry, including oil and gas
companies, electric utilities, mining companies and waste management
firms, has contributed more than $337 million
to federal
candidates and party organizations, according to data from the Center
for Responsive Politics. Yet that number pales in comparison to what the
industry has spent lobbying Congress and the executive branch during
that same time: nearly $2.6 billion.  

"No one would invest that kind of money into our government and
politics without expecting something in return," said Common Cause
President Bob Edgar. "And
what the industry got for its money was lax Congressional and regulatory
oversight and a host of federal policies that benefit its bottom line.
But with oil coating the Gulf of Mexico, it has never been clearer that
the industry's profits are coming at the nation's cost."

The report, released Tuesday, pulls together official campaign
finance and lobbying disclosure reports to highlight big energy's major
role in federal elections, as well as policymaking and regulation of the
industry. It looks specifically at giving by the industry to the four
congressional committees with jurisdiction over energy issues: the
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the
House Natural Resources Committee.

Additional report findings revealed:

For every $1 spent on political campaigns, the energy
industry spends more than $7 on lobbying.
Since 2000, energy
companies have invested nearly $2.6 billion to lobby Congress and the
executive branch.

What does that mean on a daily basis? Consider this: Even
before the BP oil disaster occurred in April, the energy industry during
the first quarter of 2010 spent more than $3.2 million on lobbying for
each day that Congress was in session. That's more than $244,000 spent
per Member of Congress.  
Among major industries, only health
care interests have spent more.

Employees of and groups tied to BP, the company at the center
of the Deepwater Horizon disaster,
have donated more than $3
million to congressional election campaigns since 2000.

Oil and gas companies are the energy industry's most
aggressive donors.
They've contributed more than $154 million
to federal candidates since 2000, about 46 percent of big energy's total
donations. Electric utilities have donated more than $104 million and
mining interests just over $30 million.

The energy industry has aggressively hired former
congressional staff and other insiders to lobby.
More than 300
lobbyists now working for oil and gas interests have past connections to
federal agencies or Congress.

"The nation's need for clean, renewable energy becomes clearer every
day," said Edgar. "But energy companies and other special interests use
their campaign contributions and lobbying clout to dominate debate in
Washington and block sensible regulations. We can start to change that
with passage of the Fair Elections Now Act, legislation that will let
candidates and officeholders end their dependence on big, corporate
contributions and rely instead on small donations from individual,
in-state givers. Then, elected officials would be beholden to
constituents, not their big donors."

Click here to view the full "Legislating Under the Influence"


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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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