The race to influence Congress is on big-time. According to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity, more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year.

That’s a 300 percent increase in the number of lobbyists involved in the climate issue over the past five years, when chances for significant action were decidedly less. Overall, “Washington can now boast more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress,” the center said. Lobbying expenditures on climate change last year topped $90 million, according to the study.

“The nation’s largest and most powerful industry groups – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers – are now leading voices against climate action,” wrote Marianne Lavelle, a staff writer for the center.

While some see the climbing number of lobbyists as a sign of likely action,
NASA climate scientist James Hansen told Lavelle he sees reason to worry: “The danger is that special interests will dilute and torque government policies, causing the climate to pass tipping points, with grave consequences for all life on the planet,” he told Lavelle.

In his weekly radio address February 28, President Obama indicated he clearly anticipates, and says his administration will be ready for, fierce lobbying resistance on his energy and climate initiatives. Few are likely to bet against him on that point.

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