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Lobbyists Writing Legislation

January 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] is gearing up to offer an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would block the E.P.A. from following through on their plan to crackdown on carbon emissions if the Senate doesn’t pass a bill on their own to do so. The Washington Post on Monday revealed that Murkowski wrote her amendment in consultation with former Bush E.P.A. officials who are now working as lobbyists for some of the country’s biggest and dirtiest energy companies.

The Washington Post has confirmed that two Washington lobbyists, Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Roger R. Martella, Jr., helped craft the original amendment Murkowski planned to offer on the floor last fall. Both Holmstead, who heads the Environmental Strategies Group and Bracewell & Guiliani, and Martella, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, held senior posts at EPA under the Bush administration and represents multiple clients with an interest in climate legislation pending before Congress.

In an interview, Holmstead said of the Murkowski amendment, “I certainly worked with her staff” on the exact phrasing of the measure in September.

“I was involved,” he said, adding that Martella also helped advise Murkowski’s aides on the matter. “The line out of the White House and the administration was that the amendment would block the car and truck rule” setting the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on emissions from vehicles, which are set to become final in March.

Holmstead represents industry interests including Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy and the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council on climate matters, according to congressional lobbying registration forms, while Martella represents the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations on the same subject.

Greenpeace is asking for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of the matter, though I’m not sure they technically have grounds to stand on here. There’s no rule in Congress against working with private industry to craft legislation. In fact, it’s common practice. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing wrong with it.

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