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What Does Yesterday's Supreme Court Corporate Spending Decision Mean for the Environment? What Does Yesterday's Supreme Court Corporate Spending Decision Mean for the Environment?

What Does Yesterday's Supreme Court Corporate Spending Decision Mean for the Environment?

by Ben Jervey
January 23, 2010

Following up on Andrew's post yesterday, I want to drill down on what impact this decision will have specifically on environmental issues and our hopes for passing a climate and energy bill this year. In short-it means bad things.In case you missed it, the Supreme Court yesterday decided 5 to 4 to roll back campaign finance laws that limit corporate spending. Oof. The Times calls it "a sharp doctrinal shift" that "will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted."For energy, climate, and environmental issues, it means that we're going to see lots of Big Oil, Big Ag, Bit Coal, and Big Chemical money flooding the elections. As Tom Laskawsky writes in Grist, "Anyone who believes that we need to address climate change, our food system, our exposure to toxic chemicals, and our energy policy to put this country on a sustainable path should be outraged by the Supreme Court's ruling." Now Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, Massey Energy, or any other ridiculously deep-pocketed corporation can spend as much as they want to support candidates friendly to their business interests. Getting any solid climate or environmental legislation passed after these 2010 elections just got a lot harder. And election-year Senators already anxious about the impact of the vote on their reelection will certainly fear the flood of cash that will come pouring in against them if they do choose to support a climate bill.The President is less than pleased:
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington-while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.
The Campaign to Legalize Democracy (what a name!) has launched the Move to Amend website in the wake of this decision. Consider signing the motion.
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