parishilton-08-big.jpgRich and thin is passé. What’s hot now is rich and dirty.

Why is a smart energy and climate policy so elusive for this country? In three words — money, money, money.

The nation’s energy bill is now about a trillion dollars. That means the super-rich fossil fuel companies have enormous profits they can spend on lobbying to ensure their continued dominance. How much? Jeff Goodell has the answer here:

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In the first quarter of 2008, Big Coal’s new front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, spent a record-breaking $1.9 million in federal lobbying expenses. To put that in perspective, in the same period, the Solar Energies Industries Association spent all of $75,000 …

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Individual coal companies have been even more generous to our nation’s cash-starved policymakers:

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal producer, spent $1.3 million in lobbying fees in Q1 of 2008. At this rate, they too will nearly double the $3 million the company spent lobbying in all of 2007.

The 800-pound gorilla in coal politics has long been The Southern Company, the big Altanta-based coal-burning electric utility.

Once again, Southern didn’t disappoint its friends, doling out $2.8 million in lobbying expenses in Q1 of 2008. That’s close to surpassing the All-Time Lobbying Champion of the Fossil Fuel Industry, ExxonMobil, which spent $3 million in the same period.

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More lobbying $$$ can be found here.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.