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Lobbying for complacency in an oil-soaked world

Jeff Siegel | Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 3 Comments

If you take a look at OpenSecrets.org’s database, you can find a current list of lobbying expenditures for any number of industries – including the oil and gas industry.
Turns out, in the past ten years, the oil and gas industry has ponied up $741,985,214 for lobbying efforts. Almost three quarters of a billion dollars!
So the question is, if oil truly is the cheapest and most reliable form of energy we have available today – which is what so many continue to claim – then why would the oil industry have to shell out nearly $742 million to lobby for special tax breaks and hidden subsidies? Because let’s face it…that’s exactly why they continue to spend so much on lobbying efforts. Truth is, without the taxpayers’ dime facilitating those so-called cheap gas prices at the pump, it would cost hundreds of dollars to fill the tank of even the most fuel-efficient hybrid.


But you’ll never hear that in all those commercials where Exxon and Shell tell us how committed they are to clean, renewable energy. And you sure as hell won’t hear about all that lobbying money either.
Of course, from their standpoint, it does make sense. After all, when you really break it down, they’re pushing a depleting, finite resource to a global community that, for the most part, is under the illusion that the fundamentals of supply and demand do not apply to oil. This illusion could not exist without close friends in Washington that seem to have a ten-year price tag of $742 million.
My friends, think for just a moment about the amount of domestic, clean energy we could develop with that kind of money. Imagine the progress we could make in creating a stronger, cleaner, and more sustainable energy infrastructure.
With $742 million, you could build a concentrated solar power plant, more than two and a half times bigger than the 64 megawatt Nevada Solar One power plant in Nevada. The 160+ megawatts generated could supply enough power for more than 35,000 homes.
Or perhaps 247, 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbines. (You could probably get a few more based on today’s pricing, but we’ll figure conservatively based on $3 million per turbine). Those turbines could generate enough power for more than 110,000 homes.
You could even build 37 geothermal power plants with a combined capacity of 481 megawatts. That’s enough to power about 240,000 homes. These figures are based on one of the most recent geothermal power plants constructed in Idaho. It was built by Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA) for U.S. Geothermal (AMEX:HTM), and cost $20 million. U.S. Geothermal is actually expanding its Idaho operations, and just recently announced an interconnection agreement with Idaho Power for its Neal Hot Springs project in Oregon.
Of course, renewable energy is not what the oil industry does. Sure, they may claim pursuit of new and exciting clean energy technologies. But their efforts are minimal at best.
Still, you can’t blame the oil industry for sticking to its guns. Their business is oil – not wind, solar or hybrid electric vehicles. And realistically, who are we to expect them to do anything but what they do best?
You may remember last year, when a bunch of holier-than-thou Senators questioned oil industry execs about how much they were investing in renewable energy. That whole dog and pony show was an absolute joke.
Can you imagine if you owned steakhouse, and the government had the audacity to come along and ask you how much you have invested in vegetarian restaurants? It’s absurd.
Nonetheless, the next time some politician issues a press release about how the oil and gas industry is being cast aside when it comes to stimulus money or any other type of government support, ask yourself one question: What did that press release cost?


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  1. March 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm PDT | Tom writes:

    Amen Jeff.

    Reply Or REGISTER HERE if you are new.

  2. March 19, 2009 at 17:35 pm PDT | Nick Aster writes:

    Stellar post.

    Reply Or REGISTER HERE if you are new.

  3. April 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm PDT | Uncle B writes:

    When Arab oil Princes and big business oil barons stop demanding American children for sacrifice in their petty religious wars, oil will be O.K. When the farmers from Chernobyl return to their farms, nuclear fission will be O.K. From now until Hell freezes over solid, and even then I will stand on the ice, and call for Solar, Wind, Hydro, Wave, Tidal and Geothermal investment. We will be head and shoulders ahead of China after their first human error resulting in a nuclear spill needing cleaning up! SEE: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5384001427276447319 and judge for yourself! According to our own Scientists, we can “Grow” all the algae-based bio-diesel we need! So, what is the holdup? Come on Obama, spill out the truth, or do the oil barons have you by the naughty parts too?

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