Monday, December 28, 2009

Good News - More Lobbyists Jockeying For a Place at the Climate Debate Table

Politico reports The Center for Public Integrity disclosed a variety of new interests have been jockeying for a place at the climate debate table since the focus of legislation has moved from the House to the Senate. CPI notes the list of those joining the fray is growing curiouser and curiouser despite the fact the legislation has folded under weight of the 1160 organizations and companies already jockeying for favor or delay:
This occurred even though the issue and interests are already so complex that Congress failed to pass legislation this year as hoped, and even though the House more than doubled its draft bill to 1,428 pages to address an array of industry concerns and gain passage back in June.
The framework for Senate legislation developed by Lieberman, Kerry and Lindsay Graham acknowledges the number of expanded interests that will be affected by such a bill.  Some obvious battles were already brewing such as off shore drilling and construction of nuclear power plants.  Despite efforts to win some moderate and conservative votes by addressing these issues, a host of new interests have popped up which can only complicate the process of writing a successful bill.  Among the new interests jockeying for favor are the food industry, natural gas lobby, venture capitalists and the clean tech industry.

The food sector, represented by the added presence of Campbell's Soup and Kellogg, Del Monte and the Alliance of Food Associations joined the debate after analyzing the House bill and realizing the bill would affect the food industry.  The industry is looking for free "allowances" or CO2 permits companies like Campbell would have to bid for at auction.

The gas companies missed the boat on influencing the House legislation and now find themselves looking to influence any potential legislation in the Senate.  The industry is diverse and had trouble organizing a cohesive political force but as a natural and abundant source of clean energy the group sees great potential in the declaration carbon emissions should be taxed:
“If they would say there should be a price on carbon, the fundamental change could be extraordinary,” Simpson said. He could see, for example, a scenario in which utilities were given a kind of Cash for Coal Clunkers credit in the carbon market for making the switch to natural gas.
The article clearly points out though that recent developments in technology have already increased the number of switches from coal to gas under free market forces.   The threat of legislation, of course, will only disrupt free market forces already in motion and bring dollars and players to Washington to curry favor instead.

Venture capitalists and clean tech developers want to see coal prices escalate at a much higher rate sooner rather than later so they see a greater return on their investments in clean energy development.   Obama has been clearly in this corner when he famously said that his energy plan would cause electricity rates to skyrocket.  As prices skyrocketed the pressure on power producers to make the switch from coal to solar, nuclear or gas would also increase dramatically.

The venture capitalists and clean tech developers want the squeeze on middle class and poorer families to be the catalyst for a quicker return on their investments.  Fortunately these folks are still outnumbered 5 to 1 by those looking for handouts or to slow the whole process down.  The only winners here are the members of Congress who will have approximately 5 lobbyists a piece jockeying for their favor and contributing to their reelection coffers.  The losers, well, that goes without saying doesn't it?

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