Members of Congress argued Monday afternoon for an amendment that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, a key priority for the agency under administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
At a markup hearing for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican members said repealing the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases would bolster the economy. What they didn't mention was that the policy would also benefit the energy and natural resources sector, which makes up more than $3 million, or about 15 percent, of the collective contributions received by the 31 Republicans on the committee last year.
"This bill says 'stop' to an EPA attempting to impose policies we cannot afford that will destroy jobs we cannot afford to lose," said Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, who proposed the bill.
"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.
After all, who would support the same industry that brought us the BP oil spill? Not just the wealthy oil companies, it turns out, but also a surprising coalition of small minority organizations.
The GOP-controlled House just last week passed a budget that would, among other things, greatly limit the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
And recently, Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) each introduced legislation that would tie the federal government's hands when it comes to carbon pollution, while Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a companion bill shortly thereafter.
Perhaps it should be no surprise then that all three — Inhofe, Barrasso and Upton — received a large chunk of their campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.
The Sierra Club, the oldest and largest grassroots environmental group in the United States, has launched a social media campaign targeting Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the nation according to a 2010 Forbes ranking.
In an effort to increase public awareness of what it alleges are environmental transgressions by the industrial giant, the organization has called on its 1.4 million members to take to social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook to express their sentiments and "dislike" Koch Industries.
"The Kochs have a lot of money, which they are using to try and buy our government and undermine common sense protection of clean air and water," said Rachele Huennekens, a Grassroots Media Coordinator for the Sierra Club. "We can't match them in terms of resources, so we have to turn to the passion of our supporters."
Ever since the healthcare reform bill was passed last spring, conservatives have vowed to undo the law, and it has turned out to be a classic case of strange bedfellows looking for strength in numbers.
Last month, House Republicans pushed through a largely ceremonial repeal bid, which never made it through the Senate. The individual mandate has been highly contested in courts, with judges across the country in dispute about the mandate's constitutionality. Now, some states, Florida in particular, are eagerly claiming that they can exempt themselves from enacting the law.
With all the invective floating around about the healthcare reform law, it can be hard to remember who was behind — and against — the law to begin with. There are the obvious opponents — the pharmaceutical manufacturers, HMOs and insurance companies. But when you follow the money behind the original opposition to healthcare reform, you find it's not the interest groups you'd think it would be.
The proposed tax made the ballot anyway, however, thanks to support from the rest of the City Council. If passed by voters in March, the tax, called Measure O, would levy $1.44 on every barrel of oil extracted within city limits.
Contrary to Hahn's prediction, it has actually been small oil companies, not the major corporations, that have banded together to fight the measure.