The news isn't good, folks, and the evidence is all around us: Americans are spending more than 6 percent of their wages on gasoline, and food prices are skyrocketing. Automakers are shutting down their plants, airlines are cutting flights and staff, and even the world's most profitable corporation, Exxon Mobil, is selling its company-owned gas stations. The North Pole is melting away. And unless the world finds a way to dramatically cut back its carbon emissions, we're facing irrevocable damage to both our health and our planet.
While newspapers pump out one grim headline after another, members of Congress are scrambling to find ways to curb the energy crisis and revive the U.S. economy, two ends that have become inexorably linked. However, these two pressing issues aren't the only shapers of the debate--and downright finger-pointing between Democrats and Republicans. Instead, the discussions about whether to tax oil and gas companies to fund renewable energy, to open coastal waters to drilling or to ease up on mandating corn-based ethanol are being influenced by the various industries pouring millions of dollars into Washington to ensure they ultimately come out on top--or at least that they don't hit bottom.
Pulling from research by the Center for Responsive Politics, Capital Eye will spend the next month investigating the interests driving the energy debate on Capitol Hill. Among other issues, our series will analyze:
- The energy plans proposed by the presidential candidates and congressional committee members--and the influence of industries that would be affected
- Oil money to lawmakers in states where offshore drilling is a possibility
- The fight between environmentalists, alternative energy producers and the established industries that far outspend them in lobbying
- The agriculture industry's divide over ethanol
- Plastic's tie to petroleum, rising gas prices and the environment
- The legislative agenda of planes, trains and automobiles
Like a gas tank hungry for cheap fuel, Americans are yearning for an energy policy from their next president. But various industries and interests, from oil companies to agriculture and environmental groups, also have a serious stake in the next president's energy policy, and are showing it with campaign contributions and lobbying efforts.... (Continue)
President Bush's decision this week to lift the federal moratorium on offshore drilling defied the Democratic Party's long-held opposition to oil exploration along the U.S. coastline. But recently more Democrats are indicating that they might change their minds, leaving environmentalists wondering whether the lawmakers will stick to their ideological guns or be swayed by high gas prices and campaign contributions from big industries.... (Continue)
Industries across the board have a stake in the outcome of energy legislation, either because they are looking for handouts or trying to minimize harm. Capital Eye profiles the major players, their concerns and the money they're spending to be heard on Capitol Hill.... (Continue)
If there's one dreaded stop on every traveler's roadmap these days, it's the gas station. With the cost of fuel topping $4 a gallon this summer for the first time ever, there are a lot of questions, but not many clear-cut answers. Capital Eye's reporters dropped in on service stations in the D.C. area to find out where consumers are placing the blame.... (Continue)