Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big Coal Bosses Banding Together To Buy Elections

With the disastrous 5 - 4 Citizens United ruling by a Supreme Court that is being called the "most conservative in decades," the floodgates are now open for Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Everything Else to dump millions of dollars into smear campaigns targeting politicians who dare to stand up to them.

Now it appears that Big Coal at least stands ready to take full advantage of this new opportunity for wealthy polluters to have an even bigger say in our democracy, as ABC News reports:
Top officials at the country's major coal companies, including Massey Energy, owner of the West Virginia mine where 29 died earlier this year, apparently want to take advantage of looser campaign finance laws and use corporate money to defeat political candidates they believe to be "anti-coal."

According to an email from Roger Nicholson, senior vice president of the International Coal Group, "a number of coal industry representatives recently have been considering developing a 527 entity with the purpose of attempting to defeat anti-coal incumbents."
And what, pray tell, makes a member of Congress "anti-coal" in the eyes of a company like Massey Energy?
Massey Energy owns the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, site of the April 5 explosion that took 29 lives, while ICG owned the Sago mine, also in West Virginia, where 12 died four years ago. The incidents have caused Congress to take a closer look at mine safety.
Oh, right: any and all attempts to look into Big Coal's gross violations of safety and environmental regulations. In fact, buying elections is a tried-and-true strategy for Massey CEO Don Blankenship (who also, by the way, doesn't believe in science):
Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has already excited controversy via his own involvement in West Virginia state elections. He spent millions of his own money in a successful attempt to defeat a sitting state supreme court justice. The justice who Blankenship supported later ruled in Massey's favor, as did another justice, Spike Maynard, who had vacationed on the Riviera with Blankenship while the case was pending before the court.
At the very least the FBI is not an elective office, or they'd have to watch out too... investigating federal crimes by Massey Employees probably also makes you "anti-coal."

Exxon: Earns billions in second quarter, spends millions to kill climate and energy legislation

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company announced their second quarter profits today and the numbers are astounding. During these past three months, the corporation's income nearly doubled to $7.56 billion. Revenue increased 24 percent to $92.5 billion. The Irving, Texas based company also found time in Q2 to grow its energy-sector empire, acquiring natural gas producer XTO Energy. The deal, valued at $29 billion, immediately makes Exxon the largest natural gas company in the U.S.

Ok, maybe the numbers aren't that shocking when you consider the state of its competitors (see: BP's rightful loss of $49.2 billion in Q2). But what truly boggles the mind, what absolutely confounds, is how much Exxon and its other colleagues spent on lobbying during this period .

Amidst the single worst oil catastrophe in our nation's history, big oil companies made humongous profit; that's enough to stoke one's ire. Simultaneously, however, these companies spent millions to kill comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Consider the following chart from Progressive Media:


1st quarter profit

2nd quarter profit

1st quarter lobby spending

2nd quarter lobby spending

2010 Political Spending

ConocoPhillips

$2,100,000,000

$4,200,000,000

$6,408,978

$5,523,001

$234,947

ExxonMobil

$6,300,000,000

$7,560,000,000

$3,390,000

$2,520,000

$584,479

Shell

$4,900,000,000

$4,500,000,000

$2,270,000

$4,000,000

$10,099


The fact that Exxon spent nearly $6 million in the past two quarters is more shocking when viewed in this context (via Yahoo! News):
Exxon earned the majority of its income from producing oil and natural gas in foreign waters, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
So, Exxon invested loads of resources in killing efforts to break America's addiction to oil and set us on the path towards a clean energy future, yet the majority of their profit comes from endeavors abroad?!