After Texas experienced drastic weather this spring, a heated debate has erupted about energy consumption and production.
New data from Transparency USA, examining green energy and the green energy lobby in Texas, finds that the green energy industry has spent over $71 million lobbying Austin lawmakers since 2015.
Energy networks across the state weren’t ready for the task when the state saw record snowfall and freezing temperatures in February, with winter storms rolling in with record amounts of ice and snow.
After millions of Texans lost power as a result of the storms, many lawmakers and elected officials immediately started speculating who was at fault, and the governor urged lawmakers to address power-related issues by the end of the year.
Transparency USA cited reports from the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC), saying companies that operate in the renewables sector have combined to spend between $35 and $71.1 million since 2015. They suggested, however, that the real number spent on lobbying is likely much higher than what the TEC data implies:
There are, without a doubt, many other businesses and groups lobbying in favor of benefits for green energy. We did not include energy companies whose primary source of income was traditional energy such as oil and gas, but many of those organizations also produce green energy and spend many millions lobbying in Austin. For example, Shell Oil is generally considered a fossil fuel company and is not included on this list. They have, however, already invested billions in green energy and recently announced their intention to increase green energy investments to $6 billion per year. Shell has spent as much as $1.3 million lobbying Texas lawmakers since 2015.
Likewise, many companies not typically associated with the energy industry have invested heavily in green energy products. AT&T boasts that they are one of the largest purchasers of green energy in the United States. They are also the largest lobbying client in Texas, having spent as much as $12.6 million to persuade Texas lawmakers since 2015.
While some of those entities could technically fall within the “green energy lobby” category, the reality is that no one outside of the lobbyists and the politicians themselves know what is discussed when they meet. Maybe AT&T’s lobbyists advocate for green energy all the time. Maybe they don’t. We don’t know. So we’ve elected to only include those lobbyist clients with renewable energy as a prominent component of their business.
Transparency USA’s full data set may be viewed here.