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Fossil fuel lobbyists wield extraordinary power over state-level responses—or failures to respond—to the climate crisis. Using data from Global Energy Monitor (GEM), this site allows users to identify these lobbyists' other, non-fossil fuel clients and begin to question why these companies and organizations are hiring lobbyists who promote further dependence on fossil fuels.
Multi-client lobbyists are often described as “gatekeepers” to state officials because of their personal relationships and broad range of expertise. State lobbying laws prohibit these multi-client lobbyists from lobbying on both sides of a particular piece of legislation or other governmental action, but nothing prohibits a fossil fuel lobbyist from also working for a company or an organization that is being negatively impacted by the climate crisis.
Compared to the average citizen, a multi-client lobbyist enjoys extraordinary access and influence with state officials. Bribery or buying a legislator’s vote is illegal, but the reliance of most legislators and candidates on private campaign financing benefits lobbyists whose clients make campaign contributions. These clients have the ability to reward legislators who do their lobbyists’ bidding with contributions, gifts, endorsements, opportunities to sponsor popular pieces of legislation, contributions to super PACs and independent 501(c)(4) groups who are supporting that legislator, and post-legislative employment as a lobbyist.
Lobbyists wield additional clout in part-time legislatures where legislators have scant staff and resources, and where many legislators have outside, non-legislative jobs competing for their attention. The existence of legislative term limits in some states has also increased lobbyists’ clout as experienced legislators are forcibly retired. Term limits may also increase the temptation for legislators to curry favor with companies that can hire them as lobbyists once they are term-limited out of office.