Love it or hate it, it is election season in America. That means political ads on TV and thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United large corporations are blanketing the air waves with political attack ads. Some of the nastiest ads are coming from in the oil, gas and coal industries and their target is President Obama.
It is no surprise that the fossil fuel companies are supporting Romney in the wake of the Keystone Oil Pipe Line debate. So, one would imagine that the alternative fuel companies would be going to bat for Obama. In 2008 green ads greatly outnumbered those for fossil fuels, $152 million to $109 million, according to the analysis by The Times. However, with two months to go before Election Day on Nov. 6, the estimated spending on television ads promoting coal, oil, and gas drilling or criticizing clean energy has exceeded $153 million according to an analysis done by The New York Times. That tally is nearly four times the $41 million spent by clean-energy advocates.
So what happened to the greens that supported Obama in 2008? Simply put, times and opinions have changed in the last four years. President Obama’s much touted climate change legislation never came to be. The solar industry has remained mostly silent thanks the negative media attention given to the Solyndra deal. Gas prices remained elevated. After the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico Obama’s energy strategy shifted allowing more offshore drilling and exploring the option to up new drilling regions like Alaska’s Arctic waters. It is hard for alternative energy supports to back that type of legislation.
The petroleum institute has spent close to $37 million television ads, according to the Kantar data, more than it spent in all of 2008. It is just one of nearly two dozen groups including Americans for Prosperity, backed by the oil billionaire David H. Koch, and Crossroads GPS that are running advertisements this year advocating more fossil-fuel production and condemning spending by the Obama administration on solar and wind projects.
Meanwhile green energy supporters such as the Climate Reality Project, are not buying television ads at all, and instead focusing on social media, training and organizing – which is great if people take the time to search for this information on the internet.
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics the Republican National Committee and Romney’s political action committee have taken in at least $13 million in campaign contributions from oil, gas, and coal industry executives or their related groups. By comparison, Obama and the Democratic National Committee have received less than $950,000 from the fossil fuel industry over the past two years. The clean energy industry has hardly closed the gap with Obama directly collecting only about $78,000 from it so far.
As you settle in to watch the first presidential debate on October 3rd keep some of the number in mind and keep an eye on the political ads that run during that debate. See you at the polls in November.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison
If you live in the Boston area and are interested in a fair look at the Occupy Movement go see:
NO ROOM FOR WISHING
A One Man Documentary Play about Occupy Boston
Written and Performed by Danny Bryck
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
September 30 – October 9, 2012
at Central Square Theater’s Studio Theater