Lobbyists, Ex-Bush Staffers Help Write Murkowski Climate Bill


In her effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency from taking action on climate change, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is getting help from some familiar faces: some of George W. Bush’s top environmental officials who now lobby on behalf of dirty energy interests.

The Washington Post reports that Bush-era EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation Jeffrey R. Holmstead and general counsel Roger R. Martella, Jr. have worked with Murkowski to draft legislation cutting off the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions.

Holmstead now heads the environmental strategies group at Bracewell & Guiliani, which lobbies on behalf of energy giants like Southern Company, Progress Energy, Duke Energy, and the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. Martella is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, where he lobbies on climate on behalf of clients like the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations.

Former Bush EPA officials know plenty about how to successfully avoid action on emissions—they ignored the issue for eight years. But letting lobbyists so explicitly help write legislation also raises some big ethical questions. Kert Davies, director of Greenpeace’s PolluterWatch, told the Post that his group will ask the Senate Ethics Committee to look into it.

Murkowski’s spokesman argued that there is nothing “improper” about working with “outside experts,” and that it is “responsible legislating” to do so. Murkowski was expected to introduce a new bill dealing with EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions next week, but now it seems her measure might be considered at a later date.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.