Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) thinks someone within the GOP-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee sabotaged efforts to rein in the EPA through the appropriations process. We have an idea for where to start looking.
As reported by Greenwire,
A Republican House leader on energy issues yesterday said GOP appropriators should have added even more legislative riders to their fiscal 2012 U.S. EPA spending bill to delay or change the agency’s plans to regulate air pollutants.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said that while the Energy and Commerce subpanel he chairs is taking aim at EPA rules for mercury, ozone and other pollutants in a number of bills, he sees no reason appropriators shouldn’t add similar language to their bill.
“I wished they would have done it,” he said.
Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) has said he opted not to include riders in his bill that would delay or limit EPA rules for a variety of conventional pollutants because he did not want to duplicate the efforts of Whitfield’s panel.
“Some things were just left out because the authorizing committees said that might screw up what we’re trying to do in our committee,” Simpson said last week.
But Whitfield disagreed that riders would “screw up” the legislative process. “Evidently somebody in the Energy and Commerce Committee didn’t want him to do it,” said Whitfield. “I wanted him to do it myself, because I like to get in as many shots as possible.” [Emphasis added]
While we have no idea whether Whitfield is correct or whether he’s referring to Members or staff, we would point out that, at the very least, not all staff might be as dedicated to defending coal as Whitfield.
As we pointed out in January, for example, the deputy general counsel for Energy and Commerce Committee is one Michael Bloomquist.
Prior to his January hiring by the Committee, Bloomquist’s prior employment was with Wiley Rein, a lobbying firm. Click here to view a sample lobbying report.
One of Bloomquist’s clients was America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), which Wiley Rein billed what looks to be about $360,000 during 2009-2010 for work on climate and renewable energy legislation. And ANGA is no friend of the coal industry or the ratepayers who depend on the cheap electricity produced by coal:
- Although ANGA was unhappy with the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, its beef was that the bill didn’t sufficiently penalize coal users.
- ANGA sucked up to Sens. Kerry and Boxer because they were more open to “promot[ing] natural gas as part of the climate solution.”
- Ahead of the 2009 IPCC conference in Copenhagen, ANGA observed, “If policymakers in our nation’s Capital are serious about addressing climate change, they should encourage the increased use of… natural gas.”
- ANGA was supportive but thought the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill inadequate;
- ANGA cheered President Obama for pledging to reduce the federal government’s carbon footprint by 28 percent by 2020;
- Last Earth Day, ANGA promoted “Clean Natural Gas for a Greener World Now.”
- After Sen. Lindsey Graham bailed out of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill, ANGA continued to support the efforts of Sens. Kerry and Lieberman.
You probably get the idea by now — ANGA badly wants to hurt the coal industry in order to increase the demand for natural gas — and Bloomquist was advocating on ANGA’s behalf.
Now Bloomquist is working for the all-important Energy and Commerce Committee, which will need to take the lead if Republicans really want end EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and EPA’s overregulation of conventional emissions from coal-fired power plants. There can be no doubt that Bloomquist’s former employer hopes such efforts fail — and perhaps (certainly?) will lobbying toward that end. (Let’s see… if you were ANGA, what Committee staff member would you have on your speed dial?)
Also consider that ANGA recently hired Tom Hassenboehler as a vice president of policy development and legislative affairs (aka a lobbyist). Hassenboehler spent “nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, serving as Minority Counsel to the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and as Counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In these roles, he helped develop floor strategies for the consideration of several key energy and environmental bills.”
Hmmm… we wonder if Hassenboehler and Bloomquist know each other? Nah… that’s too far fetched…
Anyway, ANGA aims to make it more difficult for utilities to burn coal. Its former lobbyist now works for the Energy and Commerce Committee. It has hired a key Republican Hill staffer. And keep in mind that the ongoing EPA effort to study “fracking” certainly incentivizes ANGA to curry favor with the EPA.
So did ANGA try to water down the effort to rein in the EPA? If so, did it succeed? Stay tuned.