Climate Change Lobby

Published — March 12, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

A new power player in the climate lobby

Introduction

The power industry trade group Edison Electric Institute this week announced its newest hire — Brian L. Wolff, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In a newly created position, Wolff will work among the growing ranks of Washington power players trying to influence climate change legislation.

Wolff will take charge of integrating lobbying, coalition building, and communications as the institute gears up for the climate legislation fight.

A quick perusal of Edison’s lobbying filings in the fourth quarter of 2008 reveals an influential bipartisan roster of at least 30 climate lobbyists working for the group — including former Congressional chiefs of staff, counsels to key committees, and veterans of the executive branch.

For instance, from the ranks of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: former Republican deputy press secretary Rodney Hoppe, former Republican counsel Joe Vasapoli, and former Democratic counsel David B. Finnegan.

Joe O’Neill, a former chief of staff to Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX), joins other key former Senate staff members in Edison’s lobbying ranks — Ted Hollingsworth, former chief of staff to Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), and Steve Eichenauer, a key former assistant to Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). Jeff Mackinnon, former legislative director to Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), also lobbied on climate for Edison.

Edison itself is made up of a wide range of leading industry power players, many of whom have their own lobbyists, from coal-heavy Southern Company to Pacific Gas & Electric, which relies on a much wider portfolio and gets just one percent of its power from coal. Other members like Duke Energy supported cap-and-trade legislation earlier than other power company peers, but have recently criticized the Obama administration for plans to make companies pay for auctioned off carbon pollution permits in the immediate future, instead of transitioning toward that end.

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