Lobbyists Swarm Congress Over Carbon Rules Resolutions

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By Anthony Adragna

Jan. 25 — Despite the low odds of gaining enough votes to block President Barack Obama's signature environmental regulations, more than 40 groups reported lobbying Congress during the fourth quarter of 2015 on the Congressional Review Act resolutions to kill the rules.

Organizations ranging from large coal companies like Arch Coal Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp. to major utilities like Duke Energy Corp. and Xcel Energy Inc. to industry groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers all reported lobbying lawmakers on the resolutions (S.J. Res 23; S.J. Res. 24).

Environmental and public health groups like the American Lung Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People all disclosed they pushed Congress to oppose the resolutions, which would have nullified the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan and similar carbon dioxide standards for new and modified power plants.

Entities lobbying on the resolutions were identified by Bloomberg BNA through a search of lobbying records with the House and Senate joint resolution numbers. Lobbying disclosures were due Jan. 20.

Active Despite Long Odds

The groups reported lobbying on the resolutions despite the fact the efforts faced exceptionally long odds of becoming law. Obama repeatedly vowed to defend the power plant regulations, the centerpieces of his domestic efforts on climate change, from congressional attempts to undermine them. Previous votes on similar issues showed both chambers well short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override his veto.

But Republican leaders in both chambers said it was important to put members on record about Obama's regulatory efforts. The Senate passed both resolutions 52 to 46 on Nov. 17, while the House sent them to the president's desk after approving them on Dec. 1.

After Obama vetoed both resolutions Dec. 18, senators and other aides said Congress was unlikely to try to override the presidential vetoes (14 ECR, 1/22/16).

Many of the groups have reported lobbying on the EPA power plant regulations broadly for more than a year and a significant number of them are also involved in ongoing litigation challenging the final rules.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com