The Year In Climate Lobbying, By the Numbers

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The number of businesses and interest groups lobbying Congress on climate change issues ballooned in 2009. While greentech investors still make up a relatively small portion of the climate lobby, they’re upping the ante on Capitol Hill as the Senate considers climate legislation, according to a new analysis of federal records published yesterday by the Center for Public Integrity.

CPI’s Marianne Lavelle and M.B. Pell predict that in the “next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill…the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology [will] try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.” In particular, these new players will be urging the Senate to seek more ambitious emission reduction targets in a shorter time frame — a move that could help build nascent markets for carbon-reducing technologies.

CPI finds that more than 100 interests joined the climate lobby for the first time in the third quarter of this year alone, and venture capitalists (as well as food companies) made up a notable portion of the newbies. The upswell in VC climate lobbying efforts noted by Lavelle and Pell comes as the latest illustration of the high stakes many businesses have in legislators’ decisions on questions like how much carbon will cost to emit and where it will be capped.

But greentech investors are jumping into an already scrappy fray. Leading up to the House vote on the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill in June the number of companies and organizations registered to lobby on climate change issues (CPI examined federally required disclosure filings for lobbyists who listed “climate,” “global warming,” on certain bill numbers and terms among the areas they aimed to influence) spiked 30 percent to 1,150 groups, up from just 880 in the first quarter of this year, according to analysis from the Center for Public Integrity.

During the third quarter, CPI finds the number of groups seeking influence on climate policy held fairly steady around 1,160, with a total of 2,780 climate lobbyists doing the work. Here’s a snapshot of key players in the climate lobby by the numbers:

  • Climate lobbyists for every member of Congress: 5
  • Venture capital and private equity firms lobbying on climate issues: 12+
  • Lobbyists working for venture and investment firms on climate issues: 60
  • Interests that joined the climate debate for the first time in the third quarter of 2009: 140
  • Businesses and interest groups lobbying on climate issues in 2003: 150
  • Lobbyists representing environmental groups: 160
  • Lobbyists representing alternative energy firms and interest groups: 170
  • Lobbyists representing “major sectors,” including manufacturers, power, oil and gas companies, transportation and agriculture: 2,000
  • Amount spent on climate issues in the third quarter, if 10 percent of groups’ lobbying budgets went to climate-related activity (exact spending by issue is not disclosed): $30.5 million, up about 13 percent from the previous quarter.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user K3nna

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