Sunday, May 01, 2011

Senator Portman offers garbled response when caught playing footsie with AEP on dirty-air bill

from the Columbus Dispatch

Claim of 'pro-coal' billfrom senators denied

Environmentalists warned last week that Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., were working on a bill that had been influenced by American Electric Power, one that environmentalists said would make it more difficult for the government to regulate emissions from coal-fired utility plants.

Frank O'Donnell, president of Washington-based Clean Air Watch, assailed the possible bill as "a wholesale attack on the Clean Air Act" and the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In an email made available to The Dispatch, one industrial lobbyist referred to the bill as the "Manchin-Portman bill, which is also being called the AEP bill."

Christine Mangi, a Portman spokeswoman, said Portman "is concerned about the impact that many of EPA's proposed regulations will have on energy-intensive industries and the potential effect on jobs in Ohio and nationally." But Mangi insisted that "Portman and Sen. Manchin do not have a proposed EPA-related bill."

Melissa McHenry, an AEP spokeswoman, said there was no "Portman-Manchin bill that I am aware of." But she acknowledged that AEP provided lawmakers with "some ideas on a legislative approaching to dealing with the EPA regulations that are pending."

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