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Climate Lobby Bulks Up

Some California corporations figure prominently in a new tally of climate-related lobbying activity.

A continuing study from the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity (CPI) shows that climate-relating lobbying reached a fever pitch in the third quarter of this year, with 140 new organizations showing up in government-required registrations. That brings the total number of registered climate lobbyists to 1,160, with most activity centered on two climate bills–one passed by the House and another pending in the Senate.

The Center’s latest report is called “The Climate Lobby from Soup to Nuts”–and they mean it literally. CPI reports that registered climate lobbyists now include such diverse interests as the makers of Campbell Soup and Blue Diamond Growers (“a can a week” may not be all they ask, after all).

Not surprisingly, “Big Oil” is a big spender. San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. clocks in at more than $36 million since 2003. And PG&E, one of California’s largest utilities, is shown spending more than $34 million just in the last two years ($19 million in the third quarter of 2008 alone).

Silicon Valley is well represented on the list, including some firms whose stake in climate policy is less obvious; eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Intel are all in the half-million-plus club. Government records show Intel declaring more than $12 million on climate lobbying since 2003.

Marianne Lavelle, a staff writer who helped compile the figures for CPI, says that companies with a stake in green energy technologies are seeking more of a voice in the process, to counter fossil fuel interests, and that technology-oriented venture capital firms are becoming more of a visible presence on the lobbying radar.

The CPI data also includes major environmental lobbies such as the San Francisco-based Sierra Club, which logs $1 million over the past two years. Lavelle says what it doesn’t capture is lobbying at the state level, nor does it reflect spending on “grassroots” organizing or money spent on advertising campaigns designed to steer public opinion on climate issues.

The CPI study site includes a searchable database of all federally registered climate lobbyists.