The Skywriter

To tackle climate change: Target corporate money in politics

9
Mar

To tackle climate change: Target corporate money in politics

Our Climate not your business.png

We have to address corporate money in politics if we want to win on climate change policies. It might sound off focus, but the fact of the matter is that corporate money in Congress, through donations to campaigns, lobbying, attack ads, etc, is drowning out reasonable arguments for addressing climate change. We have to address the influence of dirty energy industry money in the political process in the United States if we want to see real action on climate change.

This morning while driving to work, I happened to stumble upon Naomi Klein's visit to 'Democracy Now!' which really got me thinking about the connection between corporate power and democracy. Despite broad support for clean energy, we have run up against a wall in recent years on nearly every attempt to enact meaningful policy. On 'Democracy Now!' Naomi Klien laid out the problem:

We’re not going to get any kind of climate action unless we get to the root of the problem, which is the corrosive power of corporate money over politics."

With a war raging on in Libya, with gas prices soaring above $4/ gallon in many states, with a serious energy crisis: corporations are siezing the moment. They understand that an energy and financial crisis combine to make one huge opportunity for a power grab. The American Petroleum Institute just announced a new multi-million dollar direct contribution campaign to push for subsidies and lower pollution standardsin Congress, the Chamber of Commerce is planning to spend more than ever before in the 2012 elections. Leading up to the midterm elections in 2010, big polluting industries spent over $500 million dollars on lobbying and campaigns while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone spent at least $33 million promoting right-wing industry friendly candidates. Rep. Fred Upton (R, MI), who is spearheading current efforts to dismantle the Clean Air Act, received more than $200,000 in that period all on his own.

Bill McKibben breaks it down:

The torrents of cash now pouring unchecked into our political system cloud judgment and obscure science."

Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA) drives the point home while railing against the influence of corporate polluters in a recent hearing about climate science:

It apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries think."

Dirty energy industries are using the power from all that giving to sieze the moment to roll back the Clean Air Act's regulations on toxic pollution from arsenic to carbon dioxide, to ease restrictions on pollution from coal mining, and to challenge the very basis of climate science. Why? It costs less to influence Congress than it does to clean up your own pollution. Dirty energy industries understand the power of moments of crisis to create opportunities.

So do we.

That's why we will be joining 350.org's new campaign "The Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me." The fact of the matter is that we have to be honest with ourselves about who our real opponents are: both elected opponents and those funding our elected opponents campaigns. Then we have to hold them accountable. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funding much of the war against climate and clean energy policy in all of our names: the names of thousands of local Chambers of Commerce and in the names of hundreds of thousands of small businesses who actually support action on climate change. Make sure to check out the new campaign, and stay tuned for more info.

Let's take advantage of this opportunity to prove that the power of voters and communities can be just as powerful as the money of corporations.

Share |