BIG OIL POWERS-UP IN WASHINGTON, DC

Exxon Mobil likes to brag in its PR materials that it is "Taking on the world's toughest energy challenges." The message is that, yes, Exxon is a huge, rich conglomerate, but, hey, it invests its multibillion-dollar profits all over the globe to drill and produce more energy for you and me.

Exxon Mobil likes to brag in its PR materials that it is “Taking on the world’s toughest energy challenges.” The message is that, yes, Exxon is a huge, rich conglomerate, but, hey, it invests its multibillion-dollar profits all over the globe to drill and produce more energy for you and me.

Lately, however, Exxon and the other Barons of Big Oil have been investing more and more of their gas pump profits in the deep well of Washington politics, drilling for legislative favors. In just the first three months of this year, Exxon sank $9.3 million into lobbying firms – three times what it invested a year ago. Overall, the oil companies spent $44.5 million on influence peddlers in the first quarter, a spending rate that is increasing faster than any other industry.

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The oil giants don’t want to publicize it, but their “toughest energy challenges” really are in our Capitol City, where a serious push is finally being made to rein in corporate greed, end billions of dollars in ridiculous oil subsidies, and shift America’s energy future to clean, renewable sources. An Exxon spokesman says the company is powering up in DC merely “to ensure [that] lawmakers understand our positions.”

Yes, well, $9-million worth of lobbying in only three months probably buys a lot of understanding, especially when the calling cards of oil lobbyists often have generous campaign contributions attached to them. Thus, it’s no big surprise that Big Oil has already hit a few legislative gushers on Capitol Hill. In a recent House bill to expand the use of wind and solar energy, for example, a little provision was tacked on to open a wide swath of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil drillers – a favor the industry has long sought.

See, Congress can be responsive – assuming you have millions to spend on lobbyists.

“Oil industry lobbying steps on the gas,” Austin American Statesman, June 19, 2009.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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