Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Impact Of Polluter Spending On Energy Policy Can't Be Ignored

Deepwater Horizon on fire April 22, 2010It's always interesting when reporters try to make sense of politicians' energy positions while ignoring the influence of money in politics.

At the Washington Post's WonkBlog today, Brad Plumer says the Democratic platform is getting more oil- & coal-friendly because ... maybe locking in $4 a gallon gasoline with expensive "unconventional oil" isn't so bad? And jobs or something?

But energy policy isn't created in a vacuum - it's caught in the current of a river of oil money. Oil barons continue pouring ungodly amounts of money into bullying politicians:
The Koch brothers-backed nonprofit Americans for Prosperity and pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future combined to spend about $23.4 million against President Barack Obama during the second half of August.

That’s nearly 10 times the $2.44 million that Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Obama, spent against Romney, federal records show.
Now, one might think such spending would make Democrats fight for clean energy that much harder. But many Democrats still think appeasement works, and in some ways, that's reflected in the party platform. (Note that climate change is mentioned 18 times in the Democratic platform, so Democrats aren't exactly running away from tackling the climate crisis.)

Since 1990, energy & natural resources industries (mostly Big Oil, electric utilities & mining companies) have combined to give $640 million directly to candidates, a greater majority going to Republicans with each passing year. And in the last 15 years, electric utilities and oil & gas companies have combined to pour $3 billion dollars into lobbying.

All that money doesn't just influence politicians. How many polluter-funded commercials - from Koch-sponsored political ads to BP's image-scrubbing spots - does the average American see in a given week? Dozens?
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