Biofuels groups spent US$22M in recent years on lobbying, campaign contributions to influence legislation favorable to the industry, according to environmental group's report

WASHINGTON , November 1, 2010 (press release) – A report released today by Friends of the Earth demonstrates the ways in which the biofuels industry influences legislation through lobbying expenditures and campaign contributions.

The report, entitled “Buying Bills: How the Biofuels Industry Influences Congress to Waste Your Taxpayer Dollars” is based on public data that shows industry lobbying and campaign contributions in excess of $22 million in recent years.  

Specifically, the report draws attention to legislators who have received significant contributions from biofuel industry political action committees (PACs) and industry employees and who have also advanced legislation friendly toward the industry—including more than $9.5 billion in taxpayer funded support annually and the erosion of environmental safeguards in biofuels policy.

The top recipients of contributions in each chamber, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (R-SD), each received approximately $30,000 from the industry in the past three years according to public records.  The report describes how these legislators as well as others have played crucial roles in pushing legislation to provide or extend public funding of biofuels and to loosen environmental restrictions on the industry.

In some cases, legislators received several thousand dollars in contributions from PACs such as The Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Board, Growth Energy and POET PAC within just a few days of introducing ‘friendly’ legislation.

Kate McMahon, Biofuels Campaign Coordinator at Friends of the Earth and author of the report, said:

“There is nothing clean or green about dirty biofuels like ethanol, which has only survived in the market because of three decades of subsidies and mandates. This report paints a picture where certain legislators, at the behest of industry, are pushing flawed legislation through the halls of Congress against the public’s interest.  Members of the public should take notice of this problem.”

The report can be viewed at http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/BiofuelsPoliticalCash.pdf (pdf).

Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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