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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Green Conflict

Our chapter on interest groups notes that the influence industry extends far beyond registered lobbyists.  Recently, former EPA administrators from Republican administrations signed a New York Times op-ed endorsing regulation of greenhouse gases.  At The Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney asks whether one of them may have had a conflict of interest.
For starters, Christie Todd Whitman is co-chair of a nuclear-industry lobby group called “CASEnergy.” Nuclear companies would profit from regulation of greenhouse gases. This doesn’t disqualify Whitman’s argument, and it doesn’t actually argue against the regulation of GHGs. It does indicate that maybe Whitman should have disclosed this.
Whitman also runs Whitman Strategy Group, with offices in Princeton and on K Street.
Whitman Strategy Group helps corporations “navigate through the maze of ever-changing laws and regulations, governmental red tape and business bureaucracies.” It’s no longer registered as a lobbying firm, but when it was, its clients included solar energy companies.
Here’s the interesting detail about her consulting work, from the firm’s website:
The Whitman Strategy Group was hired by a company that was considering investing in an air quality consulting firm. They turned to WSG to help them identify the long-term value of this consulting firm….
In a very short timeframe, WSG prepared a detailed summary of key federal policy and regulatory trends and observations related to clean air, including various scenarios dependent upon Presidential and Congressional election results, with a horizon of 5 years. We also engaged with the company’s Board of Directors to discuss our results and answer various questions. Our forecasting report played a significant part in the company’s decision to move forward and purchase the air quality consulting firm.
In brief, a Whitman client started a business that profits only when the EPA uses the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. In that Times op-ed, Whitman and coauthors fully endorse Obama using “his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology….” That is, having the EPA regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act.