Monday, August 23, 2010

Why climate-change legislation went nowhere


The years 2009 and 2010 were when Congress would finally do something about climate change and the environment. 

Or so we thought.

If you were among the optimists, you needn’t feel bad that you were so wrong.  After all, the signs were all there. The time for action finally had come.

America had elected a president whose campaign stressed the need to change our national energy policy–to transition from our near total dependence on fossil fuels to a future that took serious steps to encourage energy conservation and to finance scientific breakthroughs in generating power from alternative sources like wind, solar, waves and geothermal.

Voters said they had watched too many billions going to pay for faraway wars that were as much about protecting oil sources and transportation routes as they were about spreading democracy.

The media was full of stories about rising global temperatures due to the burning of oil and coal to make electricity.  Maps showed shrinking ice caps. Photos showed polar bears adrift on melting ice floes.

Then came the worst environmental disaster in modern times –the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

There was no way that Congress could not act.  Right?
Wrong.  

What the heck happened?  Why didn’t they act?

If a new series that began today in OpenSecrets  is accurate, the answer is simple.  Congress got bought.  Again.

The following is a taste from the first installment in the five-part series, Fueling Washington: How Money Drives Politics

fuelingwashington.jpgClients 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.

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We recommend that you read the entire story. Then, bookmark the link to the series and read the upcoming installments.

It won’t be a fun read.  It’s not encouraging. In fact, it’s downright depressing. But it’s important that intelligent people, like you, get more involved in the discussion about energy and the environment.

Don’t leave it to Congress.  We know what they’ll do.

As always, let us know what you think. Use the comment box below to get the conversation started.


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