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:

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

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 …

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

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.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

More lobbying $$$ can be found here.

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