Other big corporate players were fairly consistent with their public image. Nike and NRG Energy Inc. lobbied in support of climate change policy and supported conservation groups.
Peabody Energy Corporation, which produces coal, was ranked the most obstructionist of any of the companies. It spent more than $33 million to lobby Congress against environmental measures and supporting trade groups and think tanks which spread disinformation about climate science, the researchers found.
"The thing we found most surprising in doing this research is just how all 28 companies expressed concern about climate change," said Francesca Grifo, who heads the UCS scientific integrity program. "But when we took a deeper look we found that a lot of the actions they took weren't connected to the messages."
The result of the disconnect was growing confusion about climate science, the researchers said. That made it more difficult to push for environmental protections.
The study was focused on the years 2009 and 2010, and looked at the companies' responses to moves by the Environment Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions and the failed attempt by Congress to pass a climate-change law.
It also looked at lobbying and political contributions surrounding the 2010 referendum to overturn California's climate change regulations.
The researchers acknowledged that they were handicapped by a lack of transparency about corporate donations and lobbying, which made it difficult to determine exactly how companies were trying to exert political influence.
"Given the inconspicuous ways in which companies can utilize supposedly independent groups to further their own agendas, the funding of industry groups is an important pathway through which corporations influence the national climate conversation without accountability," said the analysis.
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian U.S. Environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/30/companies-block-action-climate-change