Annual lobbying money spent by the oil & gas industry, 1998-2011.

By Evan Mackinder
23 August 2010

It was supposed to be their time.

With significant majorities in Congress, a president promising action and favorable public opinion all on their side, many environmentalists believed their political stars had properly -- and finally -- aligned. 

Sensing the unique opportunity to address global warming on a national scale, environmental interest groups poured considerable capital into federal lobbying expenditures in an effort to topple their significantly more wealthy foes in the energy industry whose political standing appeared uncharacteristically wobbly.

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. […]

Pro-Environment Groups Outmatched, Outspent in Battle Over Climate Change Legislation



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