Jeff Goodell

Big Coal Flexes Lobbying Muscle in '08

If you want to understand why America burns so much coal, spend a few minutes over at the lobbying disclosure website run by the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives (all numbers cited below are from the website).

According to the Office of the Clerk, in the first quarter of 2008, Big Coal’s new front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, spent a record-breaking $1.9 million in federal lobbying expenses. To put that in perspective, in the same period, the Solar Energies Industries Association spent all of $75,000.

At this rate, ACCCE will more than double their lobbying expenditures from last year.

Individually, Big Coal spread even more good will around.

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal producer, spent $1.3 million in lobbying fees in Q1 of 2008. At this rate, they too will nearly double the $3 million the company spent lobbying in all of 2007.

The 800-pound gorilla in coal politics has long been The Southern Company, the big Altanta-based coal-burning electric utility.

Once again, Southern didn’t disappoint its friends, doling out $2.8 million in lobbying expenses in Q1 of 2008. That’s close to surpassing the All-Time Lobbying Champion of the Fossil Fuel Industry, ExxonMobil, which spent $3 million in the same period. But ExxonMobil is about 20 times larger than Southern (according to Google Finance, ExxonMobil’s market cap is $462 billion; Southern’s is $27 billion). So dollar for dollar, Southern Company is far and away the biggest political muscle in the fossil fuel industry.

Is it any wonder that the Lieberman-Warner climate bill was dead on arrival?


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