Big oil’s lobbying spending up

Congressional Quarterly says the US oil industry is increasing spending on political lobbying while others are pulling back: the sector spent $37.3m in the first three months of the year, which is 52 per cent higher than the average of each quarter in 2008 (year-on-year figures are not given).

With a new administration resolved to shake up the country’s energy landscape, it’s not surprising that oil lobbying spending is surging.

In addition, the financial and auto industries are a little subdued on the lobbying front this year – not just by the financial situation but also, as the report notes, by a desire to “avoid criticism from lawmakers or the public” as many key players receive government bail-outs.

Is the increased spending working, though? Michael A. Livermore, executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, says in TNR that by comparison to say, utilities, big oil is left out in the cold:

Lobbyists for the oil industry are now running around Capitol Hill in panic because the bill hands out big subsidies to keep electricity prices down, but does nothing to subsidize gasoline consumption. Combine that with the Obama administration’s plans for tighter vehicle fuel-economy standards, and Big Oil appears to be on the ropes.

Not to mention the offshore drilling lease concerns.

So what could big oil hope to get? Much of the proceeds from auctions have already been allocated and as Livermore points out, taking money away from any of the other recipients is likely to be difficult.

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