In a report called “The Price of Pollution Politics,” the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said eight power companies spent a combined $67 million lobbying Congress between 2010 and the first quarter of 2012.
The report details each company’s lobbying expenses and estimates the health effects and costs of the companies’ activities. The NRDC timed its report to directly precede the scheduled June vote on Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe’s proposed Senate Joint Resolution 37, which would have blocked the Environment Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The resolution, however, was voted down 46 to 53.
The “gang of eight,” as the NRDC refers to the companies in its report, “are putting profits above protecting kids,” said Pete Altman, climate and clean air campaign director for the NRDC. “We want to see these companies focus their money on cleaning up pollution, rather than blocking, weakening and delaying EPA regulations.”
The following are the firms targeted in the NRDC report, the amount of lobbying expenditures the coalition estimated each firm spent from 2010 through the first quarter of 2012, and some of firms’ connections and political activity based on First Street data:
American Electric Power
American Electric Power Co. Inc.(AEP), based in Columbus, Ohio, spent $22 million on lobbying. In the first quarter of 2012, it reported hiring five other firms to help with its lobbying efforts. Its political action committee (PAC) so far this election cycle has distributed more than $924,000 to candidates, including Inhofe, House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland; Republicans Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Jo Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, all members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It also has donated to several other PACs, including the Nuclear Energy Institute Federal PAC and the Powerpac of the Edison Electric Institute.
Southern Co.,based in Atlanta, spent $18 million on lobbying. Among its lobbyists are:
- Stoney G. Burke, who worked two years as a legislative assistant to former Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who served on the Appropriations Committee;
- H. Adam Lawrence, who served in the 1990s as a legislative assistant and counsel to Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, a member of the committees on commerce and finance;
- Larry D. Nix, a former legislative aide to Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala., a longtime member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works;
- Michael J. Riith, a former legislative director and district coordinator for Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, a former member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Financial Services but now serves on Appropriations; and
- Jeanne H. Wolak, a former legislative assistant and director for former Rep. James L. Chapman, D-Texas.
Southern Co. during the past year also hired 16 other firms to help with its efforts, and it is affiliated with several PACs, including the Alabama Power Co. Employees Federal PAC and Georgia Power Co. Federal PAC.
Ameren,based in Collinsville, Ill., spent $7.5 million. It has hired four other firms to help its lobbying efforts, including the Gephardt Group Government Affairs led by former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, a member of the First Street 30. The firm has a PAC that has donated more than $270,000 this election cycle to candidates of the Missouri and Illinois delegations.
FirstEnergy Corp., based in Akron, Ohio, spent $5.7 million lobbying, including $1.24 million in the first quarter of 2012. Among its lobbyists are Martin Hall, former chief of staff for the Council on Environmental Quality and former staffer and deputy staff director for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. FirstEnergy also has hired five other firms to help in its lobbying efforts and has a PAC that has distributed nearly $1.2 million this election cycle to a range of members, including Boehner; Whitfield, who has been a vigorous defender of coal interests from his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Democrat Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Bob Latta of Ohio, also members of Energy and Commerce; Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, member of the Natural Resources Committee; and Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, ranking Democrat on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
DTE Energy, headquartered in Detroit, spent $3.6 million, including more than half a million dollars in the first quarter of 2012. It also has hired two other lobbying firms — Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano and Bracewell and Giuliani — and has a PAC that has distributed $486,000 so far this election cycle, including to Upton, Michigan Republican Tim Walberg and Michigan Democrat John D. Dingell, longtime member and former chairman of Energy and Commerce.
Energy Future Holdings
Energy Future Holdings spent $7 million. The company has its own lobbying force and has hired 13 other firms. Lobbyists reported for Energy Future include Joel Kaplan, an executive vice president who left earlier this year to go to Facebook to head that company’s Washington office. Kaplan worked in the George W. Bush White House from 2006 to 2008 as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy and from 2004 to 2005 as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
GenOn Energy Inc.
GenOn Energy Inc., based in Houston, spent $1 million on lobbying. It has hired three other firms in the past year and has a PAC that has distributed more than $200,000 so far this election cycle and has nearly $230,000 cash on hand. Beneficiaries of its contributions also include several members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including Chairman Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
PPL, based in Allentown, Pa., spent $1.9 million on lobbying. According to First Street data, it spent $610,000 in the first quarter of 2012, a big jump from the last three quarters of 2011 when it spent about $250,000 each quarter. It has hired two other firms and has a PAC that has distributed more than $480,000 this election cycle to members of the House and Senate, primarily those on the energy and environment panels, including Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and Whitfield, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
These companies, except for GenOn, are members of larger lobbying organizations, including the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC). Those groups have spent on lobbying, as well:
ACCCE spent more than $6.7 million between 2010 and the first quarter of 2012 lobbying Congress, including $380,000 in the first quarter of 2012 when it paid Podesta Group Inc. $90,000. Among ACCCE’s lobbyists are Patrick Cavanagh, a former legislative director for Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle. The council also paid $90,000 in lobbying fees that quarter to the Podesta Group Inc.
ERRC spent some $3 million between 2010 and the first quarter of 2012, including $340,000 in the first quarter of 2012. It focuses on clean air and water quality standards and superfund issues. It hired Bracewell and Giuliani LLP and Hunton and Williams.