The Washington Post

Energy companies, utilities lead EPA lobbying

The Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed a much-anticipated regulation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030. The rule is meant to implement part of the Clean Air Act, the federal law that regulates air emissions.

In light of the new regulation, Capital Business asked data analytics firm Capitol Metrics to take a look at which companies and lobby firms have been the most active lobbying the EPA so far this year.

According to the analysis, Southern Co., Duke Energy and Edison Electric Institute topped the list of companies, trade groups and other entities that lobbied the EPA during the first quarter. The analysis looked at the number of lobby firms those entities hired that either contacted the EPA on their behalf, or mentioned the EPA in a disclosure filing. Southern Co. worked with seven such firms, followed by Duke Energy and Edison Electric Institute with five firms each.

“With not as much going on in Congress, we’re spending a lot of time [at the EPA] and the White House,” said Brian Wolff, senior vice president of in charge of government relations at Edison Electric Institute, the association that represents investor-owned electric utilities that make up 70 percent of the U.S. electric power industry.

“You will see us and other organizations at the EPA or the White House going forward because we’re in the phase of executing and implementing the rules of the Clean Air Act.”

Wolff said much of that work is not necessarily taking a position on specific regulations, but rather figuring out exactly what electric companies need to do in order to comply with them.

“It’s not legislative lobbying where groups are fighting for or against something,” he said. “We go in and identify areas we need to work on ... We’re the people closest to running those operations, building those operations and improving those operations. That’s our business.”

Ferguson Group, Alcalde & Fay and National Environmental Strategies topped the list of lobby firms that did the most EPA lobbying during the first quarter of the year, according to the analysis. The Ferguson Group worked for 33 such clients, either contacting the EPA on their behalf or identifying the agency on disclosure forms, followed by Alcalde & Fay with 18 clients, and National Environmental Strategies with 17 clients.

Alcalde & Fay, a full-service public affairs shop whose expertise includes energy and environmental policy, has been working on climate change issues since the 1990s, said the firm’s president, Kevin Fay. While the firm does not represent many power companies most affected by the recent coal emissions rule, it has represented manufacturers impacted by other regulations under the Clean Air Act, such as the rule regulating substances that damage the ozone layer.

“The regulations that came out this week are certainly significant in terms of the next advance of efforts to deal with climate change,” Fay said. “It will take a while to play out. It will be important to keep tabs on this.”

» Capital Business and Capitol Metrics, a data analytics firm specializing in the advocacy sector, have partnered to provide a periodic snapshot of the lobby industry. Capitol Metrics can be found at

Catherine Ho covers lobbying at The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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