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Oct. 27 — At least 120 groups, varying from public health advocacy associations to large publicly traded companies, reported lobbying Congress during the third quarter of 2014 to express their views on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants, public records show.
The standards for new and existing power plants, the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's climate action plan, have drawn significant congressional interest since their introduction, and many industry groups have urged Congress to step in and block their completion. Many of the groups lobbied on legislation that would effectively do that, including the Electricity Security and Affordability Act (H.R. 3826; S. 1905) and the Coal Country Protection Act (S. 2414).
Data have shown strong, consistent lobbying of Congress on the standards. At least 110 groups have reported lobbying on the carbon pollution regulations for the previous three quarters, as congressional debate on the standards has intensified.
Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, told Bloomberg BNA that it is “not surprising” that a broad cross-section of groups would be interested, given the “sweeping nature of the rule” and its potential to affect various sectors of the economy.
While some of the lobbying, especially by that from coal industry-backed groups, focused on advancing congressional efforts to derail the completion of the standards, Slocum said a number of the groups might simply have lobbied to share their perspectives and inform members of Congress about the complex regulation.
With Congress unable to advance broad energy-related legislation, the EPA power plant standards are the “only game in town on electricity policy” and likely to maintain strong interest among various parties, Slocum said. If Republicans win back control of the Senate, lobbying on the regulations could even increase, he said.
“If the Senate flips to Republicans, you are absolutely going to see heightened activity on EPA rules, and you might even see an increase in activity,” Slocum said.
Among the companies that lobbied on the regulations in the third quarter were BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Norfolk Southern Corp., NV Energy, Inc., OGE Energy Corp., Peabody Energy Corp. and Xcel Energy Inc.
Environmental and public health groups that reported lobbying Congress on the EPA proposed regulations include the American Lung Association, American Public Health Association, Clean Air Task Force, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Action, League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.
Among the industry groups lobbying on the regulations were the American Chemistry Council, American Iron and Steel Institute, American Water Works Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Industrial Minerals Association, Large Public Power Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Electrical Manufacturers Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Lobbying records on the power plant standard were located by Bloomberg BNA through a search of public records using the keywords “power plants,” “clean power plan” and “greenhouse gas” and the bill numbers of House and Senate legislation.
On June 2, the EPA proposed carbon dioxide emissions standards for existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (RIN 2060-AR33). State air officials would administer the program, and the agency has said its proposal would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 (79 Fed. Reg. 34,830).
In September 2013, the agency offered a proposed rule for future power plants that would require the use of carbon capture and sequestration technologies to meet emissions targets (79 Fed. Reg. 1430).
Many of the groups reported lobbying on specific legislation designed to prohibit the EPA from finalizing its carbon pollution standards. None of the legislative efforts have passed both chambers of Congress to date, but Republicans have vowed to hold votes on the measures if they win back control of the Senate this fall.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in position to become Senate Majority Leader if Republicans win back control of the chamber and he wins re-election, introduced the Coal Country Protection Act in June. The legislation would block the EPA from finalizing the regulations until it certifies the power plant rules will not raise electricity prices or harm the economy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has blocked floor consideration of the legislation to date, but McConnell said he plans to hold votes on the bill if Republicans win back control of the chamber.
The Electricity Security and Affordability Act passed the House in March but has not been considered in the Senate. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the upper chamber, would block the EPA from setting emissions standards for existing plants until Congress specifically allows them, and would block limits for new plants until carbon capture and storage technologies have been successfully demonstrated at six different sites for at least a year.
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Lobbying records are available at http://soprweb.senate.gov/index.cfm?event=selectfields.
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