Under the Influence: Money and Power in Politics
Amy Silverstein: March 2011 Archives

Nuclear Energy Is Safe (Say Industry-Backed Legislators)

(Credit: John O Dyer/ Flickr)Despite the recent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, the nuclear industry still enjoys plenty of support back home, with legislators in both houses of Congress insisting that U.S. power plants are safe.

But how much of that support is based on hard facts and how much on financial influence?

The nuclear industry as a whole has spent over $46 million on lobbying from 1998 through 2010, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Roughly $18 million of that has come from the industry's leading trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, which, in addition to lobbying the people who write the laws on energy, has given them money, employed their former and future staffers, and honored them with leadership awards.

"Because the [nuclear] industry has been so stagnant for so long...that creates a limited amount of knowledge in this particular field," said Allison Fisher of Public Citizen, a non-profit that opposes nuclear energy. "It's dwindling, and it creates even more opportunity for revolving door issues."

Support for Proposed Oil Tax Limited To Green, Faux Slate Mailers

Employees at a West L.A. Oil Field (Amy Silverstein)A committee supporting a proposed oil-extraction tax for Los Angeles has spent almost all of its money so far on an unlikely pair of slate mailers, one of which was the subject of some controversy.

"The Committee To Support Measures O and P" has so far received $11,500 in contributions and spent $8,000 of that on slate mailers, according to campaign disclosure statements.

One of the mailer groups that the committee paid for an advertising spot is "Californians Vote Green," which would seem to make sense for a measure targeting the oil industry. But the other, Newport Beach slate mailer "Continuing The Republican Revolution," not so much.