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Giving till it hurts, and then giving some more

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Atlanta's own powerhouse of electric generation and coal burning, Southern Co., has once again spent more money on federal elections than any other electric utility, oil or natural gas company in the nation.

Southern Co. gave $1,488,400 in soft money, and individual and PAC contributions as of Oct. 21, with 71 percent going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In second place was El Paso Corp. ($1.4 million) and third was Chevron Texaco ($1.2 million).

Other energy and gas juggernauts pitched in, too. Exxon Mobil Corp. gave $830,762, and Enron, which topped the list during the 2000 election cycle, came in 12th, donating just over a half-million dollars.

By coincidence, surely, the Bush administration just last week announced one of the biggest rollbacks to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean air program in history, allowing older, coal-burning power plants to increase productivity without adding stronger pollution control equipment.

That now-gutted EPA program is also the basis for a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against Southern Co.



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