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Green lobbying intensifies

"As this decade moves forward, climate and energy policy remains a key issue in Congress," and alternative energy interests are intensifying their efforts on the Hill according to a report yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The moon rises behind the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near White Water, Calif.Flickr photo by Caveman 92223The moon rises behind the San Gorgonio Pass
Wind Farm near White Water, Calif.

According to the Center's calculations, the alternative energy industry spent 12 times more money lobbying the federal government in 2009 than it did in 1998.

While the analysis focuses in on lobbying-disclosure statements filed by organizations seeking to directly influence federal officials, there are other organizations equally interested in influencing the course of federal energy and environmental policy that don't disclose direct-lobbying activity.

The Huffington Post wrote yesterday about how Koch Industries, a privately held oil company, "has 'become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition,' spending over $48.5 million since 1997 to fund the climate denial machine, according to an extensive report today by Greenpeace."

While Koch does donate to campaigns and spends money to directly lobby the federal government, the company also funds a "web of political front groups and think tanks" that help to spread its message, according to the Greenpeace report.

In 2004, the Center for Public Integrity also wrote about the influence of Koch Industries, reporting that, "Although it is both a top campaign contributor and spends millions on direct lobbying, Koch's chief political influence tool is a web of interconnected, right-wing think tanks and advocacy groups funded by foundations controlled and supported by the two Koch brothers."

The report goes on to note that, "Koch has also shown a remarkable ability to get rid of or modify environmental policies and other government rules it doesn't like."

In California, the state energy commission "has received $314.5 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs" from the federal stimulus program, according to their Web site.

The state is also home to a $308 million stimulus project building a "hydrogen power plant, near Bakersfield," according to a California Watch report from last year.

"The project, by BP and mining company Rio Tinto, is designed to generate more environmentally friendly electricity by capturing carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels," the story says. "The project would bury and store the emissions underground in an oil field reservoir."

In 2009, Rio Tinto lobbyists reported contacting federal officials about energy issues and the stimulus bill in their disclosure reports filed with the Senate Office of Public Records.

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