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This is why lobbying sucks

Jun 22, 2012

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a bill that gives a major boost to the oil and gas industries. As always, the bill’s name makes it sound like a positive—The Domestic Energy Production Act. Who doesn’t want domestic energy production? Don’t we need to be less dependent on foreign oil? But Think Progress points out the bill also contains “measures that block safeguards from smog and pollution and mandate drilling on public lands.”

Why specifically roll back public health standards on smog and pollution? Because it frees you up to do more drilling and fracking in more places without having to invest in measures to keep things clean, which means bigger profits.

And how much were the industries willing to pay for the privilege of earning these profits?

The bill passed 248 to 163. Think Progress broke down the numbers on how much cash the yes votes have accepted from the oil and gas industries in campaign donations and lobbying versus the no votes. The yes votes took in a total of $38.6 million, whereas the no votes took in $5.8 million. That’s a disproportionate spread, even when you factor in the fact there are fewer no votes—on average each individual no vote took in $36,000 from the oil and gas industries, while each yes vote took in $156,000, more than four times the no’s.

Still think votes can’t be bought?

This dynamic plays out in every industry—finance and pharmaceuticals line up right alongside energy. But of course when it comes to environmental interests or consumer interests, there is no corporate lobbying fund or source of bottomless campaign donations to sway votes back in the other direction. There were only two provisions for renewable energy in yesterday’s bill amid a pile of benefits for oil and gas.

Which is why lobbying sucks. At least the White House has said it’ll veto the bill. Check out the rest of the report at Think Progress.

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