Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oil Industry Contributes to Imbalance of Power

The president's budget fuels up alternative energy, but compared to Big Oil's political activity, is the cleaner-power industry shouting into the wind? [I say, "YES!"]

By Courtney Mabeus

February 17, 2006 | To rehabilitate a nation he has diagnosed as “addicted to oil,” President Bush has proposed a number of initiatives to spark alternative energy development. His proposals, outlined in this year’s State of the Union address and his 2007 budget, mark a surprising shift in attitude given the president and Vice President Cheney’s ties to the oil and gas industry that once employed them. Although Big Oil and its alternative little sisters share an objective—to provide energy to the nation’s consumers—campaign finance records indicate they could not be more different politically.

The oil and gas industry, currently enjoying record profits, has contributed more than $186 million to political candidates and parties since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. About 75 percent of the industry’s contributions went to Republicans. Exxon Mobil Corp., which reported the highest profit in U.S. history just before Bush’s January address to Congress, and ChevronTexaco are two of the all-time top contributors to political campaigns.

By contrast, political contributors associated with solar, wind, ethanol and other sources of power development have given just 1 percent of what contributors associated with oil and gas have—a little more than $2 million to federal candidates and parties. Cruise lines and manufacturers of nutritional supplements are among the many industries that have given more. Nearly 60 percent of alternative energy’s money went to Democrats, the minority party in Congress right now.

Unless the industry raises its profile in Washington, legislation favoring alternative power sources may stand little chance—especially if it’s at the expense of oil and gas.

The oil and gas industry’s contribution patterns have become steadily more Republican since the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994. In this 2005-06 election cycle, the top two recipients of the industry’s campaign contributions are Texas Republicans—former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, with more than $95,000 from the industry, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, with more than $91,000. The industry’s top recipient during the 2003-04 election cycle was another Republican from Texas: President Bush. He received more than $2.6 million from oil and gas interests.

Please read the rest of the article at: http://capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=203

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