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Former Baucus Staffers Lobby on Climate Bill

Over a complete Republican boycott, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its climate bill last week by a vote of 11-1. The lone dissenter was Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — a name you’ll be hearing a lot more if you’re keeping tabs on the climate debate. Baucus chairs the powerful Finance Committee and has made it clear that he wants that committee to play a significant role in crafting the final Senate bill. (If the relationship between climate and finance isn’t immediately obvious, well, neither was the link between health and finance, and yet Baucus has been the key senator in the health care debate.)

So why did Baucus oppose the EPW bill, and why does he want to tinker with the legislation in Finance so much? According to the Sunlight Foundation, part of the answer could lie in the company he keeps:

Baucus will likely have a lot of input coming in from outside his office as twelve of his former staffers, including four former chiefs of staff, work as lobbyists for organizations with an explicit interest in climate legislation. [...]

Many of the organizations represented by former staffers of Baucus are generally supportive of a climate bill, but are seeking certain provisions to be included or not removed during the committee process. Others are engaged in outward opposition.

To be sure, this is far from scandalous: many former Hill staffers move on to lucrative positions on K Street. But given Baucus’ somewhat recalcitrant stand on health care in the context of heavy donations from the insurance industry, it’s reasonable to suspect that the energy industry — chock-full of old Baucus buddies — will have at least some sway as Baucus takes up climate legislation.

Sunlight has a full chart of the twelve lobbyists, along with a relationship map, here.

By the way, the Finance Committee will hold its first hearing on climate legislation tomorrow, and the witness list isn’t exactly a who’s who of environmentalists:

Mr. Abraham Breehey, Director, Legislative Affairs, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, Department of Government Affairs, Fairfax, VA

Ms. Carol Berrigan, Director, Industry Infrastructure, Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington, DC

Dr. Kenneth P. Green, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC

Dr. Margo Thorning, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Council for Capital Formation, Washington, DC

Ms. Van Ton-Quinlivan, Director,Workforce Development and Strategic Programs, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Francisco, CA

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