Most reports on how the fossil fuels industry is weakening the climate bill involve big numbers, complex election laws and even more complex ways of working around them.
Friends of the Earth decided to simplify things.
Fans of Schoolhouse Rock, those catchy cartoons that taught so many of us about grammar and government, can sing along with the video:
I’m just a bill, the clean green energy bill,
Gonna change things here on Capitol Hill.
Well, everyone was sick of oil wars and apocalyptic weather,
Needed energy security, so the people got together,
And decided I should be a law.
How I hope and pray that I will,
But today, I am still just a bill.
Of course, the little bill goes on to take a beating on Capitol Hill from lobbyists:
Made sure I’d be a toothless law.
Now today I am one sorry bill.
President Obama talked about that industry influence and the importance of passing climate legislation in his speeches last week at MIT and again yesterday in Florida.
"The closer we get to this new energy future, the harder the opposition is going to fight, the more we’re going to hear from special interests and lobbyists in Washington whose interests are contrary to the interests of the American people," the president said.
"It’s a debate between looking backwards and looking forward.”
A look at lobbyist spending so far this year reflects what both the video and the president are saying.
The No. 1 lobbying force on Capitol Hill, according to numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which lately has been angering several of its members for its staunch opposition to climate legislation. The business group has spent $62.5 million on lobbying, far out-pacing the rest of the list.
The oil industry also has a big presence among the Top 50 lobbyist clients:
No. 2: Exxon has spent $20.8 million so far this year
No. 5: Chevron has spent $15.5 million so far this year
No. 11: Conoco Phillips has spent $13.3 million so far this year
No. 15: BP has spent $11.3 million so far this year
Another big spender is power industry technology giant GE, No. 4 on the list at $19.7 million in lobbyist spending. GE has been a strong supporter of climate legislation, including being a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, whose blueprint the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill was based on.
Campaign contributions are also rolling in from those industries with the most to gain or lose from how federal rules are written to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
So far in the 2010 election cycle, electric utilities have contributed $5.4 million to congressional campaigns — the 11th largest contributing group after several industries involved in the health care debate. The oil and gas industry was the 15th largest campaign contributor at $5.5 million. Environmental interests as a whole have contributed $212,086 so far this year.