Intensive Lobbying by Utility Interests Preceded Bush's Reversal on Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Edison Electric Institute head is chief lobbyist and instrumental in persuading White House reversal on campaign promise.

Published: 18-Mar-2001

NEW YORK, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Energy interests, mainly oil, coal and utilities, waged two weeks of ferocious lobbying that eventually succeeded in getting President George W. Bush to reverse his campaign promise to require that electric power plants reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. Newsweek reports that Thomas Kuhn, chief lobbyist for the electric utility industry and a Yale classmate of Bush's, called senior White House aides to urge that Bush back away from the emissions caps.

In a speech before G-8 environmental ministers in Italy, EPA chief Christie Todd Whitman announced that the U.S. was committed to the goals of the 1997 Kyoto accords, which call for industrialized nations to bring carbon emission below 1990 levels. Before going to Italy, she checked with a senior Bush aide who affirmed the campaign position. But conservative activists were galvanized by her words, and began funneling their complaints to White House political guru Karl Rove. Bush got the message. "I want to reevaluate," he said at a March 5 meeting, reports the latest issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 19).

A small working group convened to review the question. Bolstered by a Clinton administration report warning that a cap on CO2 emissions could boost electric rates, the group recommended that it be dropped. Bush agreed, and on March 13 he broke the news to Whitman.

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                           Where There's Smoke ...
         Corporate America poured a ton of money into Bush's coffers.
                  Now it's payback time inside the Beltway.
                    By Michael Isikoff and T. Trent Gegax



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