New Environmental Lobbying Group Already Has Big Impact
WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the biggest growing lobbying groups on Capitol Hill is made up of people that support environmental causes.
As special correspondent Kai Jackson reports, there are increasing concerns about how the money those groups are donating to lawmakers Is affecting U.S. Environmental Policy.Environmental issues aren't just big news, they've become big business. In 2013 the industry as a whole spent more than $14-million dollars lobbying Congress for a variety of causes. "It's kind of a game, I wish that it wasn't but it is what it is so people just need to be open and disclosed," said Frank Guarnieri of No Chyron. "There are a number of different ways in which climate change happens," said San Francisco Businessman Tom Steyer. Enter Tom Steyer, the San Francisco businessman and billionaire started Nextgen Climate, an environmental advocacy group. Steyer says he's planning to spend $100-million dollars, including $50-million of his own money, to make climate change a major issue in the next election cycle. And he's already attacking some republican candidates about environmental issues. "So if you said to me how much would I be willing to spend to make this what I believe it is, the most important issue in the minds of Americans, then I would think $100-million bucks would be very low honestly," said Steyer. In the 2012 election cycle, environmental groups spent nearly $16-million dollars making campaign contributions to candidates. In that cycle, 91% of the money went to democrats. But government waste opponent Peter Schweizer believes there's a bi-partisan problem here that needs to be fixed. "I think every individual should look online as to what their congressman is invested in whether it's oil companies, whether it's green energy companies and ascertain whether that affects the way that they're voting," said Schweizer. The money being donated by environmental groups is significant but there are other organizations donating big bucks for their causes as well. In 2013 lobbying on capitol hill totaled $3.2 billion dollars and reflected a range of industries. Tom Steyer made his fortune as a hedge fund manager. Peter Schweizer says that fact merits scrutiny. In this particular case the billionaire investor is invested in several hedge funds that would benefit from the very program that he's pushing which is a series of national initiatives as it relates to climate change. We contacted Tom Steyer for an interview, through a representative he declined. We were told a series of questions we asked would be answered but never received responses.