Tom Borelli

One sector is immune from the economic downturn: global warming lobbyists. A new report by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) finds that over 2,000 lobbyists have wielded their influence to affect the outcome of the debate over the costly federal regulation of greenhouse gases. Included in the lobbying ranks were Wall Street firms that were bailed out by the American taxpayer.

According to the CPI study, lobbyists for Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase were involved, and, in total, "the finance industry has as large a lobbying force on climate as the alternative energy industry, with about 130 reps working the issue last year..."

JPMorgan got $25 billion in TARP money last fall while Goldman obtained $10 billion. The stated purpose of the cash infusion was to recapitalize the banks so they could resume consumer lending.

It can be assumed that this lobbying bonanza will only increase in scope since President Obama, in his February 24 speech to Congress, asked for “…legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America."

After taking a financial beating from the explosion of the housing bubble, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan undoubtedly are desperate to find new markets to generate windfall profits. A cap-and-trade regulatory scheme offers them lucrative potential for profits – at least, on paper.

The regulatory scheme would place federal caps on carbon emissions, and could lead to the creation of the largest commodity market in the world. A commissioner of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission estimated that, "even with conservative assumptions, this could be a $2 trillion futures market in relatively short order." That would make the carbon market potentially bigger than futures markets of oil and natural gas.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Goldman has invested in European and U.S. carbon trading platforms, including the Chicago Climate Exchange. JPMorgan invested in the creation of The Green Exchange™, a unit of the New York Mercantile Exchange that will trade in “a comprehensive range of environmental futures, options, and swaps contracts for markets focused on solutions to climate change …”

Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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