Fossil fuels lobby

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Gas station in Hiroshima, Japan.

"Fossil fuels lobby" is the umbrella term used to name the paid representatives of large fossil fuel (oil, gas, coal) and electric utilities corporations who attempt to influence governmental policy. So-called Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total S.A., Koch Industries, Chevron Corporation, and ConocoPhillips are amongst the largest corporations associated with the energy lobby. General Electric, Southern Co., First Energy, and the Edison Electric Institute are among the influential electric utilities corporations.[1] Both electric companies and big oil and gas companies are consistently among the ten highest-spending industrial lobbyists.[2]

Influence of the energy lobby in the United States[edit]

In the 2006 election cycle, oil and gas companies contributed over $19 million to political campaigns. 82% of that money went to Republican candidates, while the remaining 18% went to Democrats. In 2004, oil and gas companies contributed over $25 million to political campaigns, donating 80% of that money to Republicans. In the 2000 elections, over $34 million was contributed, with 78% of that money going to Republicans. Electric utilities also heavily favor Republicans; their contributions have recently ranged between $15–20 million.[3][4] From 2003-2006, the energy lobby also contributed $58.3 million to state-level campaigns. By comparison, alternative energy interests contributed around half a million dollars in the same time period.[5] During the United States elections in 2012 which includes the presidential election there was much spending by the lobbies.[6]

Criticisms[edit]

Refineries owned by energy companies produce a great deal of environmental emissions.

Environmental impact of represented companies[edit]

Many of the most influential members of the energy lobby are among the top polluters in the United States, with Conoco, Exxon, and General Electric ranking in the top six.[7] According to the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March 2002 by former attorneys at the Environmental Protection Agency, “Companies like ExxonMobil and Sunoco keep reporting record profits while increasing emissions or more cancer causing chemicals from their refineries.”[8] The energy lobby is criticized for using its influence to block or dilute legislation regarding global climate change.[9]

Governmental influence[edit]

Various scandals involving prominent politicians have drawn attention to the close links between the energy lobby and the U.S. government, particularly the influence wielded by the energy lobby in the Bush administration. In June 2005, documents emerged that revealed that the Bush administration had consulted Exxon regarding its stance on the Kyoto protocol. According to The Guardian, "In briefing papers given before meetings to the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's ‘active involvement’ in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable."[10] In November 2005, documents revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force met with executives from large oil companies, although chief executives of those companies denied involvement before the Senate Energy and Commerce committees. Environmentalists were not allowed access to the Energy Task Force’s activities, which was responsible for developing a national energy policy.[11][12] Oil companies also participated with Dick Cheneys task force in a discussion of Iraqi oilfields, refineries and other energy infrastructure, and two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents are dated two years before the Invasion of Iraq, and six months before the September 11 attacks (9/11).[13][14]

Global influence[edit]

The energy lobby has a history of conflict with international interests and democratic global governance. According to the International Sustainable Energy Organization for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency the second World Climate Conference "was sabotaged by the USA and oil lobbies"[15] whereupon UNISEO proceeded to set up a Global Energy Charter "which protects life, health, climate and the biosphere from emissions." According to the organization, these same "reactionary energy lobby groups tried to boycott this Charter with the help from oil- and coal-producing nations and succeeded to keep energy out of the Rio Conference on Environment & Development (Earth Summit) in 1992, to continue this game in all Climate Conferences in Berlin, Kyoto, The Hague and Marrakech, where the USA boycotted the Kyoto protocol and still ignores the Charter."[15]

During the 14th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development Bulletin, "One minister is said to have challenged the North’s renewable energy lobby with the words: why not “light up” the dark zones of the world by “extinguishing some of the candles” in yours?"[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]