New tools shine a light on state lobbying efforts

Researchers and watchdogs unveil databases to demystify the influence of lobbying on state climate policies.

Marianne Lavelle reports for InsideClimate News.


In short:

  • Brown University and OpenSecrets have launched platforms to track lobbying activities in state legislatures, offering insights into environmental policy-making.
  • These databases reveal a lack of transparency in many states, making it difficult to understand who influences legislative decisions on environmental issues.
  • Efforts like the HowDoTheyLobby.org website provide valuable data for examining the forces shaping crucial state-level climate and environmental policies.

Key quote:

“Although we know that state activity is really important, we haven’t had a really clear sense of the actual mechanics of how policy is getting made. This has really been a black box, and these efforts will help us kind of unlock that black box and see what’s inside.”

— Neal Woods, political science professor at the University of South Carolina

Why this matters:

The influence of lobbying on state climate policies varies significantly across the country, reflecting the diversity of economic interests and political landscapes. States with strong fossil fuel industries, such as Texas or West Virginia, may see more intense lobbying efforts to resist stringent climate policies, while states like California or New York, where public opinion strongly favors action on climate change, may be more receptive to aggressive climate legislation.

Related: Birth of the Climate Lobby?

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