you ever find yourself a little overbooked, wondering how you can be
at two or three places at once? Well, that’s never happened to the oil
industry. In 2009, the oil and gas industry had 782 lobbyists working
the halls of Congress and the Obama administration, according to a
recent analysis by OpenSecrets.org.
That means there were one and a half lobbyists for every single member
of the House and Senate. Or, as Consumer Watchdog’s DC Director
describes it, the oil guys are everywhere, always.
Of course, you can look at it from their point of view: If the oil
industry wasn’t able to spend 175 million dollars sweet talking, wining
and dining Members of Congress, who can imagine the havoc society would
face: increased oversight of offshore drilling operations, pollution
limits, regulation of refinery supply. The horror, the horror.
Did I mention $175 million? Yeah, that’s how much OpenSecrets.org
reports the oil and gas industry spent lobbying the federal government
last year. As a point of comparison, environmental groups shattered
their old lobbying record by spending $22 million last year
(that is, about 19% less than Exxon alone spent on lobbyists). And
here’s a little factlet you never would have guessed: the oily guys make
gobs more money than their environmental lobbying counterparts. The
enviros got 456 lobbyists for their $22 mil– less than $50,000 per
advocate – while Exxon and friends handed their lobbyists about $225k
each. Who says BP and the gang don’t treat their workers right?
And, they’re at it again. In the first part of 2010, the oil and gas
lobby spent about $75 million. Granted they had a lot of explainin’ to
do in the wake of the BP disaster, but they’re also lobbying to block
the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. In California, the industry is taking lobbying to a whole ‘nother level as they push Proposition 23,
the November ballot measure to overturn the state’s global warming
law. In an initiative, the citizens become the legislature, so oil
companies like Valero are putting money – in three million dollar chunks – towards lobbying voters directly. (If only they would wine and dine us!)
What makes all these lobbying expenditures even more annoying is that
those personal attendants the oil industry throws at each legislator
and all the Prop 23 ads that will be blanketing the California airwaves
trying to lobby voters, is really paid for by us motorists. Lobbying is
just a cost of doing business for the oil industry, passed through to
you and me every time we pump up. So next time you fill up your tank,
satisfy yourself in knowing that some of those pennies per gallon are
buying some Congressman a chateaubriand. And If you happen to spend
your hard earned cash at a Valero-owned station anytime soon, know that
your money is being used to lobby… yourself.