As the climate change debate heats up in the states, those with a keen interest in the issue have turned up the pressure to make sure their voices are heard in the lawmaking process. Between 2003 and 2007, energy-related companies contributed $151 million to state-level politics; chambers of commerce, manufacturers and pro-business organizations gave an additional $31.4 million. In sharp contrast, environmental organizations and alternative energy companies contributed only $26 million.
These numbers, from a study released by FollowTheMoney.org, show that members of energy and manufacturing coalitions gave 80 percent of their donations to incumbent lawmakers. Coalition members heavily favored Republicans, giving them 62 percent of their donations. Coalition donors were very targeted, giving more than seven times the amount of money to those who went on to win their elections than they gave to candidates who lost. Of further interest is that sixty percent of their contributions went to only six states: California, Illinois, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Virginia.
Energy and manufacturing coalitions didn't stop after the elections. They employed 7,538 lobbyists to influence legislation at the state level; almost half hired specifically by energy and natural resource companies.
Environmental and alternative energy groups did not sit idly by on the sidelines during this same five-year period. Of the $26 million they gave in political contributions, $22 million focused on influencing the outcome of ballot initiatives. These groups distributed their candidate donations more evenly, giving 38 percent to incumbents, 28 percent to challengers, and 34 percent to candidates in open seat contests. They, too, were effective in their giving, with two-thirds of their money going to winning candidates.