Georgia’s Biggest Polluters Spending Millions to Pollute Politics

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John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Georgia Research and Policy Center

Savannah, GA – BASF Corp. SE spent nearly $3 million on lobbying in a single year, according to a new report by Environment Georgia. The enormous spending came after their facilities in Savannah and Attapulgus dumped nearly 2.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Georgia’s waterways in 2012.  

Environment Georgia released its “Polluting Politics” report shortly after the introduction of a House bill to block the EPA’s clean water rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Georgia and across the country.

“As it turns out, the same companies that are polluting our rivers with toxic chemicals are also polluting our politics with their spending,” observed Marlaina Maddux, Campaign Organizer with Environment Georgia.

Environment Georgia’s report links discharges of toxic chemicals as reported in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012 with federally reported campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

Major findings of the report include:

  • BASF Corp’s Savannah facility alone dumped 890,400 pounds of toxic chemicals into the Savannah River basin. Its owner, BASF SE, spent $2,875,000 on lobbying in the same year, and $494,625 on campaign contributions.

Right now, polluters are lobbying their allies on Capitol Hill to derail EPA’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to 40,000 miles of streams in Georgia. Loopholes in the law currently leave the waterways that feed the drinking water for 4.9 million Georgians at risk.

 “When powerful special interests spend millions to influence our elections and lobby decision-makers, they drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” said Meghan Hess, Digital Organizer with the Public Interest Research Group. “To make sure we’re able to protect our environment and our health, we need reforms to stop the flow of big money into politics.”

Fortunately, Georgia has clean water champions in Congress, like Congressman Hank Johnson, who are standing up for waterways we love.

“Out of concern of the people of my district — and similar communities across the country — I stand in support of this clean water rule,” said Congressman Hank Johnson. “As ranking member of the Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, we owe the country to implement a rule that keeps our water safe and maintains farmers’ ability to make a living. Like all things in nature, we must strike a balance.”

 “It’s clear that Georgia’s polluters have deep pockets, but thousands of Georgians have raised their voices in support of doing more to protect our waters, from the Chattahoochee to the Savannah,” Maddux said. “It’s time for Congress to listen to citizens, not the polluters, and let the EPA finish the job to protect our waterways.”


Environment Georgia is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group working to protect clean air, clean water, and green spaces.