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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Clean Air Watch Warns Big Polluters Try to Shape Global Warming Legislation with Campaign Cash

(Washington, DC. October 4, 2007) -- The non-profit Clean Air Watch today warned that the nation’s biggest electric power polluters appear to be trying to shape global warming legislation through campaign cash.

Clean Air Watch detailed industry contributions in a new report, Hot Checks, based on official information filed this year with the Federal Election Commission.

“The nation’s biggest power polluters appear to be systematically using campaign contributions to target key lawmakers,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

During the first eight months of this year, O’Donnell noted, the ten biggest electric power producers of carbon emissions and their lobbying group doled out more than $400,000 to a majority of the law makers on the key U.S. House and Senate committees that deal with global warming legislation.

According to official documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, political action committees affiliated with these companies contributed to 45 of the 57 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Big 10 power PAC checks went to 16 of the 23 members of the Senate Energy Committee, and to 12 of the 19 members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

O’Donnell noted that the biggest carbon polluter – Ohio-based American Electric Power – alone has contributed to no fewer than 46 members of the key House and Senate panels. AEP was also the biggest spender – distributing $65,500 in PAC contributions to members of the key panels.

“These aren’t like contributions to the March of Dimes,” said O’Donnell. “These companies want a seat at the table when the deals get cut.”

The report comes on heels of a white paper on possible legislation by two of the leading cash recipients, Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Rick Boucher (D-VA), and as two key Senate law makers, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) ready legislation they hope to move through the Senate this year.

O’Donnell noted that the biggest carbon polluters have a key goal: to shape any legislation to the advantage of big coal-burning companies through cost limits on cleanup obligations and through a system allocating emission allowances that would, in essence, subsidize coal.

Clean Air Watch recently noted in a separate report that the draft Lieberman-Warner plan could mean windfall profits for the biggest polluters.

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