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POLLUTERS WAR AGAINST CLEAN AIR STANDARDS


From:               C 
Subject:            POLLUTERS WAR AGAINST CLEAN AIR STANDARDS
To:                 Multiple recipients of list ENVST-L 

CLEAN AIR TRUST

***CLEAN AIR BULLETIN***


TO: Reporters and editors covering the environment

FROM: Frank O'Donnell

DATE: January 22, 1999

SUBJECT: HOW WASHINGTON REALLY WORKS:


BIG POLLUTERS BOAST OF PERCEIVED SUCCESS IN COVERT BID TO GUT EPA
PLAN TO PROTECT AIR AT NATIONAL PARKS; TARGET CONGRESSIONAL
DEMOCRATS, BLACK MAYORS, SENIOR CITIZENS; BEGIN `LAYING
GROUNDWORK' FOR RELAXING CLEAN AIR ACT, UNDERMINING CLEAN AIR
HEALTH STANDARDS


    On January 21, 1999 at 10:30 a.m., lobbyists for some of the
nation's biggest industrial polluters gathered at the Washington,
D.C. headquarters of the Edison Electric Institute to celebrate,
and to plot.

    The lobbyists, from trade associations representing the coal,
electric power, oil, automobile, trucking and chemical
industries, and such individual companies as General Motors,
DaimlerChrysler, Texaco, Chevron, Tenneco and Phillips Petroleum,
were celebrating what they believed was a covert and successful
effort to gut a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to
protect and improve air quality in and near national parks. They
claimed success in part because they believe their low-key
lobbying approach has kept the issue below EPA Administrator
Carol Browner's radar screen.

    During the hour-long meeting, the polluters noted that their
"outreach effort" had focused on congressional Democrats --
including a letter-signing initiative that took place on the
floor of the House of Representatives in the middle of the recent
impeachment debate. The lobbyists further identified black mayors
-- including Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer -- and senior citizens
as other potential allies in case they need to "continue some
pressure" on this and other clean air issues.

    Flush with apparent success, the polluters also began to plot
ways to relax the Clean Air Act and to undermine clean air health
standards.

   It was a meeting of principals of an organization known as
the "Air Quality Standards Coalition," a polluter alliance that
reportedly had spent tens of millions of dollars in an
unsuccessful effort to block new clean air standards for smog and
soot in 1997. The organization, which has rechristened itself the
"Air Quality Coalition," believes it has been more successful in
a recent -- and far more covert -- effort to gut the EPA park
protection plan.

    The EPA plan, known as the "regional haze rule," was designed
to gradually improve pollution-impaired visibility in and around
national parks. The EPA rule was proposed last year, but has been
delayed -- in large part because of agitation whipped up by the
polluters, who fear it might require them to clean up their
emissions.

Here are some highlights of the polluter gathering:

 o  The lobbyists patted themselves on the back for waging a
    covert war against the EPA haze rule during the past six
    months. "We want everyone to understand the Coalition has
    been working on this issue," said Michael Mason of Tenneco.
    "We actually appear to be making significant progress."
    Another lobbyist added that the low-key lobbying campaign has
    not attracted the notice of EPA Administrator Browner: "We
    don't want Browner to own this thing." Said another: "The key
    is keeping it out of Carol Browner's bailiwick."

 o  The polluters boasted that they had generated letters of
    opposition to the EPA rule from state governments and by
    specifically targeting Democratic members of the House of
    Representatives. Since last July, the lobbyists initiated
    several letters by governors and at least four letters by
    House Democrats. They identified Reps. Ted Strickland (D-OH)
    and Ron Klink (D- PA) as prominent representatives recruited
    to pressure EPA. One lobbyist noted that Rep. Klink had
    actually used the recent impeachment debate as an opportunity
    to gather signatures on a letter drafted by the polluter
    coalition. "For anyone who talks to Ron Klink," said the
    lobbyist, "Please thank him!"

 o  Much of the "Democrat Outreach Strategy," noted one coalition
    member, has been done by a D.C. lobbying firm, the Alpine
    Group, which is on a $7,500 monthly retainer to the
    Coalition.

 o  The lobbyists noted that EPA is expected to send a final rule
    on the haze issue to the White House Office of Management and
    Budget on or about February 15. "We're going to get the rule
    when it goes to OMB," noted one. "If it's okay, then we'll
    tell the White House that. But if not, EPA has been lying to
    us, saying the rule has been more flexible. That's when we
    need riots in the streets!"

 o  Black mayors were identified as potential allies in case
    additional pressure is needed. "The mayors are meeting here
    in D.C. next week," noted Ronald G. Sykes, a consultant who
    represents General Motors. "Dennis Archer might be one."

 o  The Commerce Department was identified as another important
    ally if the final rule appears objectionable. "We need to get
    some Democrats to knock on Commerce's door and deliver the
    message," noted one lobbyist.

 o  As a safeguard, the lobbyists also discussed trying to
    convince Congress to block an objectionable final rule. "This
    might be the first opportunity to use the Congressional
    Review Act," said one.

 o  Confident of success on the haze rule, the Coalition began
    to discuss longer- range plans to influence Congress and EPA.
    One member noted he had met earlier in the day with a
    possible ally, the Alliance for Senior Citizens. The seniors
    had wondered why there was still so much "bad news" about air
    pollution. The Coalition agreed to gather information on how
    air quality has improved.

 o  Coalition members agreed to stage a retreat in the near
    future -- and to invite "key Hill staff" -- to plot a
    specific "work plan" for the next several years. A major
    target is the Clean Air Act. "A lot of people on the Hill are
    very appreciative of the help we've given them -- they want
    that help to continue," noted one lobbyist. "They want us to
    identify problem areas in the Clean Air Act so they can
    develop a public record for changing the law." Sen. James
    Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Clean Air Subcommittee,
    was identified as a key. [Inhofe has said he will hold
    oversight hearings on the law this year.] The lobbyists
    agreed to spend the next two years "laying the groundwork"
    for weakening the law.

 o  The Coalition also targeted EPA's health standards for smog
    and soot. The lobbyists discussed using various corporate
    foundations to underwrite research projects that could be
    used to undermine the current standards. "Some companies have
    foundations that can fund research," noted one lobbyist. "It
    comes out of a different pile of money."

 o  The lobbyists lamented that only $60,000 remains in the
    Coalition's war chest. The Edison Electric Institute and
    Chemical Manufacturers Association quickly volunteered to
    provide a quick infusion of new cash. General Motors, Ford
    and DaimlerChrysler pledged to "give their fair share." The
    Coalition noted it would put out a new letter to its members
    seeking "dues.

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