Clean energy drowned out in Washington by a Two Billion Dollar Juggernaut

Tue, 2010-08-31 10:01Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Clean energy drowned out in Washington by a Two Billion Dollar Juggernaut

Red State bloggers are all in a tizzy over an Open Secrets article showing that the American Wind Energy Association spent over $5 million last year on lobbying politicians in Washington, DC.

It’s about time we started seeing the clean energy sector make its voice heard on Capitol Hill and I hope we see more people pushing lawmakers to consider legislation that promotes the use of clean and unlimited sources of energy like the sun and the wind.

But the hair-pulling by Red State bloggers is more than a little ridiculous when you consider that the American Wind Energy Association’s $5 million lobby expenditure is equal to about 5 minutes of lobbying by the oil and gas lobby which spent a whopping $175 million in the same time period.

Looking over the last ten years, the numbers are even more startling.

Since 1999 the oil and gas sector has spent over $862 million - close to a billion dollars - trying to win concessions in the Capitol for their products. Combine this amount with the approximately $1.2 billion spent by electrical utilities and that is over $2 billion spent since 1999 in the name of oil, gas and coal.

In the same period the entire alternative energy sector spent  a meager $105 million - one-twentieth the amount spent by its main competition. 

Lobbying has its place in politics, no doubt about it - everyone, including industry, should have a chance to convince politicians of their argument for or against a proposed law or regulation. But the system is broken when a single sector can flood Capitol Hill with close to a billion dollars and drown out any other voice, which is exactly what the oil and gas industry does every day to great effect.

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California Governor Jerry Brown used the occasion of his fourth inaugural address to propose an ambitious new clean energy target for the state: 50% renewable energy by 2030.

“We are at a crossroads,” Brown said in announcing the proposal, according to Climate Progress. “The challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative.”

Already the leader in installed solar...

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