When it comes to chutzpah, you’ve got to hand it to the coal lobby.
Here it is, ready to walk away with literally hundreds of billions of dollars from the House-passed climate bill. It’s at the center of a lobbying scandal involving forged letters to members of Congress. And now it has the audacity to demand an even bigger payoff from taxpayers as the Senate scrutinizes climate legislation.
An excellent – and rather shocking – piece yesterday in Greenwire noted that
Coal's biggest lobbying group is launching a $1 million campaign to win support from Senate Democrats, an effort that employs the same public relations firm ensnared by a scandal over forged letters to Congress.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), an alliance of coal and utility companies, hired Alexandria, Va.-based Hawthorn Group for the new effort. Hawthorn worked for the coal group earlier this year, coordinating outreach on the House climate bill. During that project, Hawthorn subcontractor Bonner & Associates sent at least three members of Congress a total of 12 fraudulent letters purporting to be from groups opposed to the legislation…
Coal received many provisions it sought in the House bill but is pressing for more in the Senate.
Coal interests want a provision in climate legislation that would limit how much businesses must pay for carbon dioxide emissions under a cap-and-trade program. Coal also wants financial support for research into ways to capture carbon emissions and sequester them underground. And the industry wants to slow down the pace of the cap, which in the House bill tightens over time.
There is probably no need to re-hash the lobbying scandal. We hope that Rep. Ed Markey’s investigation will get to the bottom of it.
As we tried to remind people yesterday http://www.grist.org/article/2009-08-06-hawthorn-group-astroturfing-climate-bill , the Hawthorn Group boasted earlier this year that it had manipulated both politicians and the media to believe there was public support for something it called “clean coal.” (Show us where it is.)
And since the coal lobby (which includes coal-burning power companies such as Duke Energy and American Electric Power Company and Southern Company
http://www.cleancoalusa.org/docs/members/ ) is now demanding even more ransom from the Senate, it might be worth taking a moment to consider how much money it would make from the House legislation that it now considers inadequate.
Clean Air Watch estimates that the coal lobby would receive more than a quarter trillion dollars in economic value between 2012 and 2030 under the House legislation. Yes, that is not a misprint – the word is trillion. The total includes the value of carbon permits given for free to coal-burning electric companies, “bonus” allowances for carbon capture and sequestration, free permits given to “merchant” coal plants and other freebies.
But you don’t need to take our word for it. An independent body such as the Congressional Budget Office or the GAO should examine the issue. We hope someone in Congress will press for such an unbiased analysis.