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Wednesday, December 03, 2003  

Energy

Judy Pasternak's story for the LA Times is by far the best story related to the early dealings between Cheney and various energy companies. Originally published by the Times on August 26, 2001, it is linked permanently at Common Dreams. Below are selections from her report.

How the process worked

Throughout February and March, executives representing electricity, coal, natural gas and nuclear interests paraded quietly in small groups to a building in the White House compound, where the new administration's energy policy was being written.

Some firms sent emissaries more than once. Enron Corp., which trades electricity and natural gas, once got three top officials into a private session with Vice President Dick Cheney, who headed the energy task force. Cheney did "a lot of listening," according to a company spokesman.

Many of the executives at the White House meetings were generous donors to the Republican Party, and some of their key lobbyists were freshly hired from the Bush presidential campaign. They found a receptive task force. Among its ranks were three former energy industry executives and consultants. The task force also included a Bush agency head who was involved in the sensitive discussions while his wife took in thousands of dollars in fees from three electricity producers. The final report, issued May 16, boosted the nation's energy industries. It called for additional coal production, and five days later the world's largest coal company, Peabody Energy, issued a public stock offering, raising about $60 million more than expected. While Peabody was preparing to go public, its chief executive and vice president participated in a March 1 meeting with Cheney.

The report also touted new gas extraction technologies. An early draft noted controversy over a gas recovery technique offered by Halliburton Co., the firm Cheney ran from 1995 to 2000, before becoming vice president. The plan released to the public deleted the negative language.


Electricity

The director of its major lobbying arm, the Edison Electric Institute, roomed at Yale University with George W. Bush. Electricity generators and marketers contributed $19.7 million to Republicans since 1998, roughly double what they gave Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And electricity companies negotiated contracts with administration friends, political operatives and, in one case, a family member.

Take Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. In the spring of 2000, the Bush campaign recruited him to help with strategy.

A year later, as a lobbyist for several electricity producers, he pushed Bush and Cheney to renege on a campaign promise to restrict power plant emissions of carbon dioxide. The gas has been linked to global warming.

On March 1, Barbour sent a sternly worded memo on the subject to Cheney. "A moment of truth is arriving," the note began. Complying with carbon dioxide limits would be so expensive that Bush should reverse his position, Barbour argued.

"Clinton-Gore policies meant less energy and more expensive energy," he wrote. "Most Americans thought Bush-Cheney would mean more energy, and more affordable energy."

Within weeks, Cheney's task force had adopted the same reasoning on carbon dioxide. Bush cited the task force position when he announced in March that he had changed his mind.


Coal

"The president is friendly to energy, and so is the vice president, and thank God," said Fred Palmer, a vice president at Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal producer. "Our society needs energy."

Peabody, an affiliate called Black Beauty Coal and their employees have directed $900,000 to Republican coffers over the last two years. Peabody Chief Executive Irl F. Engelhardt personally gave $100,000 to Bush's inaugural committee.

Two Peabody executives and one from Black Beauty were named to Bush's energy advisory team after his election victory.

Two weeks after the task force was formed, Peabody announced plans to make a public stock offering. Several weeks later, on March 1, Palmer and Engelhardt attended a coal-interests meeting with task force members Abraham and Lindsey and Cheney's energy director.

On May 21, five days after the task force report touted coal, Peabody's stock went on sale. The company received $420 million, about $60 million more than analysts expected.



Other Documents relating to Cheney and the energy talks
GAO Report on the energy dealing
Documents Cheney was forced to make public

posted by Jeff | 7:58 AM |
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