Washington — The next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill will involve more than the usual suspects. Way more. Watch soup makers face off against steel companies. Witness the folks who pump gas from the ground fight back against those who dig up rock. And watch the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.
In short, even though President Obama pledged to the world at Copenhagen that the United States is committed to action on global warming, the domestic politics are only growing “curiouser and curiouser,” as Alice might say from Wonderland. An analysis of the latest federal records by The Center for Public Integrity shows that the overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160, thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray. But a close look at the 140 or so interests that jumped into the debate for the first time in the third quarter shows a marked trend: Companies and organizations which feel they’ve been overlooked are fighting for a place at the table.
In other words, as the action moved to the Senate in recent months, still more sectors of the economy waded into the battle. This occurred even though the issue and interests are already so complex that Congress failed to pass legislation this year as hoped, and even though the House more than doubled its draft bill to 1,428 pages to address an array of industry concerns and gain passage back in June. The amount of money involved likely rose as well. Although amounts spent on lobbying by issue are not disclosed, if the groups involved spent just 10 percent of their lobbying budgets on climate, they shelled out $30.5 million in the third quarter — up nearly 13 percent over the previous quarter.