TRUST NAMES DIRTY-AIR POWER GROUP
THE CLEAN AIR 'VILLAIN OF THE MONTH'
'All-Star' Team of Republican Heavy Hitters
Hired to Seek a Pardon for the Polluters
(Washington, D.C. July 26, 2001) - The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today awarded its clean air "Villain of the Month" award to the National Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of coal-burning power companies accused of evading the Clean Air Act.
Members of the Council -- including the Southern Company, First Energy, and Duke Power -- are defendants in high-profile Justice Department anti-pollution lawsuits. (Another financial contributor to the Council, the Tennessee Valley Authority, is facing administrative action by the Environmental Protection Agency for the same sort of pollution violations.)
Rather than clean up their deadly emissions, these companies have hired an "all-star" team of Republican heavy-hitter lobbyists in an effort to weaken enforcement of the Clean Air Act and obtain a pardon for the polluters.1 The polluters already persuaded Vice President Cheney to order EPA to review its enforcement policy (and the Justice Department to review the pending lawsuits). Now the dirty-air lobby is moving in for the kill.
Even though the public -- as we have seen in recent EPA hearings -- overwhelmingly supports strong enforcement of the Clean Air Act and no pardon for the polluters, these insiders may have enough clout -- and campaign cash -- to get the polluters off the hook.
Here are some of the "all stars" that we know have signed up to bat for these dirty-air utilities:
In addition, Gray reportedly helped one of his former assistants, Jeffrey Holmstead, obtain appointment as EPA's Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation -- a key decision maker in the current controversy. (What a coincidence! And an amazing further coincidence that several of Holmstead's other friends and former colleagues have also gotten contracts to lobby for companies including Southern Company and Cinergy since his appointment became known.)
Gray recently testified on behalf of the polluters at an EPA hearing; he is scheduled to testify today at a Senate hearing on the health and environmental effects of pollution from power companies.
Gray recently also earned another distinction: he gave more campaign contributions (all of it to Republican candidates) than any other lobbyist in Washington during the last election cycle.
We should note this isn't strictly a partisan affair. The polluters have also hired Jim Chapman, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, to press their case.
1 At stake is New Source Review, government jargon for the Clean Air Act enforcement program that requires industries to install state-of-the-art pollution controls when they expand or make major modifications to existing factories, electric power plants, refineries, etc. The Clinton Administration's Justice Department sued the defendant power companies for trying to evade this part of the law.