While groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries often get chided for the political spending, green groups are making their fair share of financial contributions to political causes, too.
According to data obtained by The Daily Caller, environmental groups have spent more than $125 million on political causes, advertising campaigns and lobbying since 2009. Nearly $40 million of that was spent in California in 2010 alone, mostly to campaign against the Prop 23 ballot measure that would have postponed the implementation of greenhouse gas regulations.
During the 2009-2010 spending cycle, the League of Conservation Voters, Inc, a 501(c)4 organization, spent more than $4 million on political causes, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund spent nearly $2 million, and the Sierra Club spent just over $1 million, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings.
In total, during that time period, green groups spent more than $20 million dollars on 2010 political campaigns.
Ad spending is another matter. During that same time period, about 25 groups and coalitions announced a little over $327 million in ad buys. The biggest announcement, by far, came from Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection when it said it would spend $300 million for climate-related ads.
And in 2009, environmental groups spent nearly $22.5 million on lobbying. The top four spenders were the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, World Wildlife Fund and US Climate Action Partnership. Each spent $1 million or more.
“I just look at the total budget of the [Natural Resources Defense Council]; their total budget is around $125 million a year,” Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told TheDC. “That’s more than AEI, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute and the Hoover Institute put together.”
Hayward went on to say that it is disingenuous to paint business as an adversary to the environmental community because the latter is more concentrated and “a lot larger than people think.”
“As a political force, it’s easily a billion dollar-a-year enterprise,” said Hayward. “And environmental groups have a common agenda, there is not much diversity among them. So it’s sort of misleading to say it’s environmental groups versus business groups because business groups are on all sides of this question.”