From Green Right Now Reports

The Center for American Progress Action Fund published an article this week highlighting the millions that energy and utility companies have spent lobbying Congress.

The article contends that this downpour of money into Washington — half of a billion dollars since 2008 — has been the key factor in stalling climate action.

Top fossil fuel industries and electric power companies have spent heavily in Washington (see the chart above), according to spending disclosures required by law. What their lobbyists have been saying is not revealed in the dollar amounts, but the CAPAF report outlines how these companies are on the record as opposing strong climate legislation, fees for carbon pollution and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.

Some, such as Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, have generously funded climate change denial groups and set up what are known as “Astroturf” operations (so called because they mimic real grassroots organizations) that oppose climate change initiatives. Koch Industries recently donated $1 million to try to pass Prop 23 in California, which would repeal the state’s clean energy law (which contains the nation’s most aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions).

During the months that climate action was on the table in Congress — from January 2009 until June 2010 — oil and gas and electric utility companies spent more than $500 million lobbying Congress, according to the report, which cites Open, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, as its source.

By contrast, emerging clean energy industries spent $17 million on lobbying during the same period — less than 5 percent of what entrenched “dirty energy” and electric companies did.

In some cases, the established energy companies tried to shape climate legislation. American Electric Power, for instance, played a “more positive role by attempting to shape clean energy and global warming legislation to its benefit. But it also supported efforts to prevent EPA from limiting global warming pollutants.”

Electric companies have been singled out for pollution-related taxes in some climate/energy proposals, prompting cries of unfair treatment.

The CAPAF article also called out the “largest trade association working to defeat clean energy and global warming legislation”: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That organization spent nearly $190 million on lobbying during the year and a half tracked.

The Chamber sees energy legislation as jeopardizing American jobs and costing businesses money. This week it issued a news release arguing against new taxes on energy companies.

But the article by the Center for American Progress, a progressive Washington think tank that favors climate action, contends that shifting to a new clean energy economy would create homegrown jobs and help America keep up with the rest of the world.

“Clean energy and climate legislation would create jobs and stimulate the growth of clean energy industries as well as hold polluters accountable for their emissions,” the authors wrote.