Judy Pasternak summarizes a sobering review of lobbying spending by US nuclear industry conducted by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. The total lobbying spending exceeded $600 million since 1999, with and additional $63 million in campaign contributions.
Even with the old rules on political "free speech" industry spending has been creeping up year-on-year, reaching more than $80 million in 2008. With hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies on the line (for example, via much higher caps on nuclear loan guarantees), the Supreme Court ruling to strike limits on political contributions could open the floodgates of nuclear money into the political process.
Consider that spending even $1 billion in 2010 (a more than tenfold increase over 2008 levels) still offers 100:1 returns if loan guarantee caps are boosted to the industry targets. Sounds pretty good, especially compared to equity markets over the past ten years. But 100:1 is actually well below the 220:1 returns to lobbying estimated in an empirical analysis of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 by Alexander, Mazza, and Scholz.
(Thanks to Ellen Vancko (UCS) for the Pasternak link).