Jim Angle aired Jeffrey Holmstead's criticisms of possible Clean Air Act regulations of greenhouse gases without mentioning that Holmstead works as a lobbyist on behalf of energy companies.
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In an April 17 segment on Fox News' Special Report about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finding that greenhouse gases can be regulated under the Clean Air Act, chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle aired Jeffrey Holmstead's assertions that the "permitting process under the Clean Air Act slows things down by at least two or three years" and that new regulation would give activist groups "the ability to bring lawsuits, to stop virtually any construction project that they disfavor for any reason." Angle did not mention, however, that Holmstead works as a lobbyist on behalf of energy companies.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Holmstead is a current employee of Bracewell & Giuliani, an energy lobbying firm. The Senate lobbying database (lobbyist name: Holmstead, Jeffrey) lists Holmstead as lobbying for more than half a dozen energy companies and organizations, including the Southern Co.
Moreover, a May 2, 2007, New York Times article reported that "[e]nvironmentalists say" Bracewell & Giuliani "has had considerable success in persuading the Bush administration to ease Clinton-era enforcement efforts against coal-fired plants and write policies favored by that sector over tougher alternatives." The article further reported:
Several years ago, the Bracewell firm played a significant role in an effort to block the E.P.A. from continuing a series of lawsuits filed against coal-fired electric power plants under the Clinton administration. The suits sought to enforce a rarely used provision of the Clean Air Act that required plants to install pollution controls when they altered their facilities.
Bracewell lawyers and other industry representatives argued that the E.P.A. under President Bill Clinton had retroactively redefined routine maintenance as modifications to bring the regulation into play.
Bracewell and some of its biggest clients, including the Southern Company, formed a new lobbying group, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, to fight for legislative and policy changes to kill the lawsuits. The council operates as an extension of Bracewell's Washington office and is staffed by its partners and professionals. It also contracted with Haley Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman, as a lobbyist. (Mr. Barbour is now governor of Mississippi.)
Angle referred to Holmstead only as an "analyst ," and accompanying on-screen text identified him only as the EPA's former assistant administrator for air quality:
From the April 17 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BAIER: The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that carbon dioxide and five other gases pose a danger to health and can be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Beyond the bureaucratic language, this move could have sweeping effects on the U.S. economy. Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle reports the administration and its allies made clear this is a shot across the bow for Congress in an effort to force action to regulate emissions.
[begin video clip]
ANGLE: The potential impact of today's finding by the EPA could hardly be more sweeping, because it could affect everything from airliners to lawnmowers and almost every corner of the U.S. economy.
WILLIAM KOVACS (U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president for the Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs Division): They would regulate every aspect of the economy, not just -- not just vehicles. They would be regulating buildings, farms, cows -- whatever would produce a greenhouse gas.
ANGLE: In fact, 1 million more buildings would be required to get EPA permits.
ROGER MARTELLA (former EPA general counsel): Big-box stores, shopping malls, in some case municipal buildings, things like schools and libraries. Larger buildings that use a lot of energy to heat all could be subject to Clean Air Act regulation.
ANGLE: Even tens of thousands of churches would be required to get a permit because of their air conditioning, and analysts say any kind of new construction such as hospitals or schools would take a lot longer.
HOLMSTEAD: That permitting process under the Clean Air Act slows things down by at least two or three years.
ANGLE: And legendary Democrat John Dingell of Michigan says this has the potential for shutting down or slowing down virtually all economic activity. It's early in the process. The EPA only announced a proposed finding that tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases endanger human health. But once any regulation is issued, activist groups would have a basis for lawsuits against carbon dioxide from any source.
HOLMSTEAD: It would give them the ability to bring lawsuits, to stop virtually any construction project that they disfavor for any reason.
ANGLE: Rather than deny potential regulatory nightmares, the Obama administration and its allies are using them as leverage to scare Congress into passing legislation to regulate carbon emissions.
A statement from the White House said, "The president has made clear his strong preference that Congress act to pass comprehensive legislation rather than address the climate challenge through administrative action." And the EPA in announcing today's move said "both President Obama and administrator [Lisa] Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue."
HOLMSTEAD: I've never seen a press release before from a regulatory agency that says, well, we're required to do this but we're only doing it because we really want Congress to act.
MARTELLA: It's been a very explicit strategy by the environmental groups. They're not shy to say that this is their biggest stick in getting Congress to do something.
ANGLE: And one of the president's allies on Capitol Hill calls it a game-changer.
EDWARD MARKEY (D-MA): It is now a choice between regulation and legislation. The EPA will have to act if Congress does not act.
[end video clip]
ANGLE: So officials are depicting the EPA move as a sword hanging over Congress as a threat to lawmakers who think climate change legislation is too expensive or may hurt their constituents too much. The administration and its allies are saying it could be worse -- Bret.
BAIER: This is one to watch.
BAIER: Jim, thanks.