Wonder why climate bills stall in the Senate? Follow the money

BY Randy Rieland
The oil lobby has spent tens of millions lobbying Congress.

Let’s review. We just lived through the worst accidental oil leak in history. And we’re at the tail end of a summer of cataclysmic weather that top climate scientists tell us is a taste of the globally-warmed future. Yet the United States Senate failed even to pass a climate bill so tepid that it qualified as what a Republican (South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham) once would have described as “half-assed.”

How does this happen? The Center for Responsive Politics offers a whopper of a clue. It reports that during the first six months of this year alone, Big Oil spent $75 million lobbying Congress. The report also points out that last year, when green groups retaliated and spent a record $22.4 million on their own lobbying, they still were outspent 7 to 1 by fossil fuel lobbies. The Center’s Open Secrets Blog has all the dirty details as part of a weeklong series on how Big Oil fuels Washington.

Target practice: For BP, the Gulf oil leak has been the gift that keeps on giving—and not in a good way. At yesterday’s hearing in Houston on the Deepwater Horizon explosion, federal investigators nailed the oil giant for not addressing hundreds of maintenance problems on the rig. BP’s erstwhile partners pointed one finger after another at their beleaguered colleague. Even Brad Pitt unloaded on BP, saying:

    I was never for the death penalty before; I am willing to look at it again.

Dirty business: If you think clean coal is an oxymoron you’ve got plenty of company. Turns out a lot of utility companies don’t buy the concept either. According to AP reporter Matthew Brown, 30 old-fashioned dirty coal plants have been built since 2008, or are under construction:

    The expansion, the industry’s largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted “clean coal” technology is still a long way from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail.

Waiting to inhale: And while we’re on the subject of the air we’d rather not breathe, the EPA is postponing the announcement of tougher smog regulations at least until late October. More likely the agency will stay mum on smog until after the November elections, because any announcement would provide ammo for Republicans who have been accusing the federal government of running amok. Even November would be way too soon for some on Capitol Hill. Why rush asked a group of seven senators in a written complaint to EPA chief Lisa Jackson earlier this month? New smog regulations can wait until 2013.

We take it all back: Feels like you could use a little positive spin right about now, so how’s this? Bob Marshall, in the New Orleans Times Picayune, reports that some enviros think the BP gusher in the Gulf may actually save more Louisiana wetlands than it destroyed:

    … three months of daily newscasts have dramatically increased national awareness of the state’s real coastal disaster, and the billions in fines BP is expected to pay could bankroll critical projects Congress had refused to fund.

Whine and punishment: And here’s another little pick-you-up. During a visit to a remote research base in the Russian Arctic, Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, suggested that too much has been made of man’s role in global warming, pointing out that climate change helped kill off woolly mammoths long before the age of human industrialization. German scientist Inken Preuss set him straight:

    Climate change has never happened like now and man is making a huge impact.

He got told.

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