Red State bloggers are all in a tizzy over an Open Secrets article showing that the American Wind Energy Association spent over $5 million last year on lobbying politicians in Washington, DC.
It’s about time we started seeing the clean energy sector make its voice heard on Capitol Hill and I hope we see more people pushing lawmakers to consider legislation that promotes the use of clean and unlimited sources of energy like the sun and the wind.
But the hair-pulling by Red State bloggers is more than a little ridiculous when you consider that the American Wind Energy Association’s $5 million lobby expenditure is equal to about 5 minutes of lobbying by the oil and gas lobby which spent a whopping $175 million in the same time period.
Looking over the last ten years, the numbers are even more startling.
Since 1999 the oil and gas sector has spent over $862 million – close to a billion dollars – trying to win concessions in the Capitol for their products. Combine this amount with the approximately $1.2 billion spent by electrical utilities and that is over $2 billion spent since 1999 in the name of oil, gas and coal.
In the same period the entire alternative energy sector spent a meager $105 million – one-twentieth the amount spent by its main competition.
Lobbying has its place in politics, no doubt about it – everyone, including industry, should have a chance to convince politicians of their argument for or against a proposed law or regulation. But the system is broken when a single sector can flood Capitol Hill with close to a billion dollars and drown out any other voice, which is exactly what the oil and gas industry does every day to great effect.