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Energy Companies Continue to Boost Lobbying In 2009

Renewable energy and emissions may have faded somewhat from the national stage to make room for healthcare, but that isn't stopping energy companies from keeping up intense pressure on congress and Senate.

Quarterly disclosure reports coming out now show a wave of spending in the oil industry. Chevron, as we just mentioned in our latest roundup, doubled year-over-year to $6 million, and ConocoPhillips also roughly doubled to $3.3 million dollars.

Much of the oil industry spend is showing up in the efforts of the American Petroleum Institute to change the Waxman-Markey bill, including a study it just released yesterday which claims that American refining activities could fall 25 percent by 2030, hurting the economy.

The electricity generation industry is also in on the game; Duke Energy,one of the country's largest utilities, is on track to hit a new high after spending about $5 million last year. In the second quarter of this year, it paid out over $1.5 million to lobbyists.

However, the utilities are less focused than their counterparts in the oil industry, and they are often working to get grants and allowances rather than to stop climate change legislation. Duke, for instance, is pursuing carbon capture research for its coal plants, while Progress Energy, which spent $440,000, has a number of interests including hybrid vehicles and measures against metal theft.

Adding to the mix, there are a few companies that reduced their lobbying expenditures. Surprisingly, Exxon Mobil was one, with $4.3 million for the quarter. It spent almost $30 million lobbying last year. And on the utility side, northern California operator PG&E posted a huge drop to only $740,000 -- last year it had almost equaled Exxon.

While it's fairly easy to track the lobbying activity of large public companies, it's harder to quantify what effect startups have -- the numerous small companies in solar, wind, energy efficiency and other areas.

Those companies have slowly been entering the lobbying game, but can't spend anywhere near as much as traditional energy firms. On the other hand, renewable energy get a disproportionate amount of attention, especially if their technology seems "cool".

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