Exxon Spends $9.32 Million To Convince Politicians To Let Them Drill, Baby, Drill

Exxon Mobil (XOM) is leading the way in corporate lobbying according to Tim Carney* of the D.C. Examiner:

Examiner: Oil giant Exxon Mobil — the largest corporation in America — spent $9.32 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2009, more than any other company in the nation, according to recently released lobbying filings. Joining Exxon in the top four were competitor Chevron ($6.8 million), defence contractor Lockheed Martin ($6.35 million) and drug maker Pfizer ($6.14 million).

This seems like a lot of money, but really it’s a drop in the bucket for Exxon who produced $5 billion in free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2008. It’d be ridiculous of them not to spend this type of money to try and shape policy.

Here’s how they spend it: The lion’s share of Exxon’s lobbying effort was devoted to drilling access. Exxon, the most profitable company in America in 2008, according to Fortune magazine’s rankings, also lobbies on environmental policy, tax law and trade.

The company spends a good amount trying to get the feds off its back, but it also seeks favours and tax breaks from government. On health care, for instance, Exxon opposed Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush’s plan to end the special tax treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance. And even pro-drilling lobbying is not, strictly speaking, laissez-faire advocacy. Much of the drilling is on federally owned lands, and this requires federal permission.

Exxon needs access to more land for drilling because its oil production is expected to only grow by a small amount in the coming years. And though Obama promised to look into off shore drilling for oil, to this point, the off shore chatter is mostly about putting in wind farms. And that benefits General Electric, who came in seventh last quarter, spending $4.54 million on lobbying.

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