August 24, 2010

Environment Groups Outmatched, Outspent By Big Oil: Do Something

What’s going on? We elected a president that promised to give us the change we needed. We had majorities in Congress. And we were pissed. So, why — after millions of gallons of oil spilled and the hottest summer on record — are we still limping along with a completely inadequate and spineless energy policy? No surprise here… We didn’t have enough money.

The oil industry outspent pro-environment groups by more than $150 million in 2009. From OpenSecrets.org:

At the height of the legislative push, during 2009, pro-environmental groups spent a record $22.4 million on federal lobby efforts. That is double the average expenditure between 2000 and 2008.

Advocacy groups lobbied independently of, and in partnership with, like-minded corporations. Industry leaders — the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund — hit hardest, investing more than $6 million. The US Climate Action Partnership, an unprecedented conglomeration of leading advocacy groups, energy businesses and some of the U.S. largest producers, spent $1 million independently.

Yet even as pro-environment groups seemed poised to capitalize on favorable trends, moneyed opponents girded for a fight with more financial capital than ever before.

Clients in the oil and gas industry unleashed a fury of lobbying expenditures in 2009, spending $175 million — easily an industry record — and outpacing the pro-environmental groups by nearly eight-fold, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.

Some of the largest petroleum companies in the world together spent hundreds of millions of dollars in various attempts to influence politics during the past 18 months

ExxonMobil, the industry leader in 2009, spent $27.4 million in lobbying expenditures that year — more than the entire pro-environment lobby.

And in July, congressional debate on global warming stopped cold.

In other words, Goliath whipped David.

It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and say “we’re screwed!” But that’s exactly our problem. Our generation — our society — is so damn complacent that it only takes $175 million to walk all over us. We expect to lose. We’re as deluded as the oil industry. This isn’t a fight about oil, or energy or even the environment. This is the fight of our lives. What makes us so arrogant to think that we’ll figure something out, that we can just hope for something better, that it’s okay to get whipped again and again and again by the oil industry?!

Quit rolling over and DO something. We don’t have the money to outspend the oil industry, but we have a voice — use it. It’s the only way we are going to break out of this stranglehold. We need to stop supporting oil companies and start making them pay. Do everything you can to cutback on energy — walk, ride your bike, take the bus, turn off your lights! We need to put everything we can into cutting back on energy use and developing alternative energy sources.

It’s time for our elected leaders to grow a pair and step up to the plate. We elected these people, make them listen. Seriously, do it now (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml). And don’t just send them an email. Call them, write them a letter, pay them a visit.

It’s time to stop trying and start doing. It’s time to admit we have a problem and do something about it. Tell your neighbors, your friends, your family… and don’t stop. Keep telling the story.

Our country was founded on courage and innovative ideas. It’s time for us to reawaken that spirit. It’s not going to be easy — it’s going to be hard as hell. But it’s worth fighting for.

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Emily Nuchols  |  Contribution: 3,820