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Murkowski and lobbyists, take three

By Juliet Eilperin

More details have emerged about the involvement by two lobbyists--who were senior Environmental Protection Agency officials during the George W. Bush administration--in crafting an amendment Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) tried to offer in the fall in an effort to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases on its own.

Murkowski's staff director on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, McKie Campbell, and her energy staffer Colin Hayes, convened a meeting on Sept. 23 with aides to a handful of centrist Democrats to brief them on the final version of the amendment, according to participants and sources familiar with the session. The two lobbyists, Bracewell & Giuliani's Jeffrey R. Holmstead and Sidley Austin's Roger Martella Jr., called in by phone and walked the staffers through the changes that had been made to text, to reassure the staffers that Murkowski's amendment would not block the EPA from issuing new curbs on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in 2010 even as it would bar the agency from imposing those limits on power plants.

The meeting was aimed at seeing "was there a way to satisfy both sides of that issue," a participant said.

The meeting, which took place in Hart Senate Office Building 370 at 8:45 am, included two aides to James M. Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Before leaving the room, participants were asked to turn in the documents Murkowski's aides distributed, confirmed Inhofe spokesman Matthew Dempsey.

Holmstead and Martella dominated the opening of the meeting by describing how the revised amendment had answered the attacks lodged by some Democrats and environmental groups, a source said.

The two men are both experts in the Clean Air Act, and represent clients with a financial stake in climate legislation moving through Congress. Holmstead served as head of EPA's air and radiation office under Bush, while Martella served as the agency's general counsel.

Murkowski spokesman Robert Dillon, who told the Post Monday that Holmstead and Martella offered "technical assistance" but that Murkowski and her aides write the actual text of the amendment, said he would release a statement on the matter sometime Tuesday night.

Holmstead on Tuesday downplayed his involvement in the matter. On Monday he told The Washington Post that he was "involved" in the wording of the Murkowski amendment and "I certainly worked with her staff" on it.

But in a post Tuesday by Energy & Environment Daily, Holmstead is quoted as saying, "It is a wild exaggeration to say that I was somehow involved in drafting it."

In an interview, Holmstead said while he and Martella offered some comments during the Sept. 23 session, "We were really answering questions" some staffers had about the amendment.

"It was all very out in the open," he said. "I have no memory of playing a major role in that call."

Martella was not available for comment either Monday or Tuesday.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  January 12, 2010; 6:12 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please report offensive comments below.

The EPA is the very entity rhat should be leading the way in our efforts to combat the potential national and world-wide desaster that is eminent.
If business intrests such as the Chamber Of Commerce and organizatuions that are fronts for the energy companies,such as the groups who bankroll Murkowski,have too much input the current gridlock will deepen untill it is too late to recover.

Posted by: Phritz | January 13, 2010 6:19 PM
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The problem with such a delay is that unemployment will be driven up with the mounting costs of a changing climate, the rising price of fossil fuels (because of unchecked demand for them), and competitive pressure from other nations which are taking meaningful action.
Of course, one could argue that employment will increase because of public work projects dealing with climate consequences, more jobs in the military safeguarding oil supplies, and rising health care spending for air pollution damage. However, any rational & sane economist would point out that such jobs are not productive: they merely maintain status quo, and but don't increase the wealth of a nation.

Posted by: Denswei | January 13, 2010 3:00 PM
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The whole climate change/EPA scenario should disappear for the time it takes for unemployment to at least decrease by 50%; i.e. 20 years or more.

Posted by: apberusdisvet | January 13, 2010 2:38 PM
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