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Chair of FERC
T he audacity inside the Bush administration never ceases to amaze. The latest example from Bush and Company is the announcement that Joseph Kelliher, a former policy adviser with the Department of Energy who currently serves as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—the agency that controls the country’s natural gas industry, hydroelectric projects, electric utilities, and oil pipelines and has played a critical role in the deregulation of those industries—is to chair FERC.
President Bush had previously picked Rebecca Klein, the former Republican head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission and a close friend of the president, to chair FERC, but red flags were raised during a routine FBI background check on Klein, which forced the president to choose a new chair at the last minute.
News of Kelliher’s July appointment came as a welcome news to many industry lobbyists and energy executives who viewed him as a staunch supporter of deregulation and an advocate for eliminating regulatory restrictions, despite the fact that rules are in place to protect consumers from the energy price gouging and market manipulation that took place prior to the Enron scandal four years ago and, to some extent, is still somewhat routine in various parts of the country.
What’s most troubling about Kelliher’s appointment to head FERC, a role in which his main priority will be to protect consumers from the manipulative tactics of the very industry he enjoys a cozy relationship with, is his part in the relentless lobbying for the energy industry in early 2001. As a member of Vice President Dick Chen- ey’s energy task force, he helped write President Bush’s National Energy Policy to financially benefit energy corporations at the expense of consumers.
The extent to which Kelliher went to solicit key players in the energy industry to help write the National Energy Policy became apparent in 2003 when Judicial Watch, a bipartisan watchdog group that sued Vice President Dick Cheney for access to his list of industry insiders who participated in secret meetings with Cheney’s energy task force, won a legal battle that forced the White House to release several hundred pages of task force related documents. One such document, a March 10, 2001 email to energy lobbyist Dana Contratto, was damning in that Kelliher asked Contratto if he was “King,” what he would include in a national energy policy, especially with respect to natural gas issues. Contratto responded with three pages of ideas, many of which were included in the final version of the energy policy.
“Kelliher’s inappropriate relationship and communications with corporate lobbyists not only tainted the administration’s National Energy Policy, but raise questions about the ability of Mr. Kelliher to be an impartial voice at FERC,” Public Citizen Director Joan Claybrook said in a February 11, 2003 letter sent to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in response to Bush’s announcement that Kelliher would fill one of the vacant seats on the FERC commision.
“FERC is weathering a storm of criticism for its deficient handling of the west coast energy crisis, the Commission’s failure to maintain any effective enforcement of dozens of corrupt energy corporations, the deteriorating relations between FERC and nearly half of the state utility regulators who continue to be mistrustful of the Commission’s jurisdictional intentions and the Commission’s poor track record protecting consumers,” Claybrook said.
On another occasion, Kelliher sought out Stephen Craig Sayle, an Enron lobbyist, to make similar recommendations. Sayle, former counsel for the House Commerce Committee, sent Kelliher Enron’s “dream list,” including a recommendation that the Administration commit to market-based emissions trading, which was also used in its National Energy Policy.
Sayle wrote Kelliher that, “A multi-pollutant regulatory strategy should be estimated for the power generation sector including:
- Gradually phased in [mercury, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide emissions] reductions
- Reform/replacement of NSR
- Use of market-based/emission trading programs
- Inclusion of both existing and new plants and equal treatment for both
The last bullet is the critical one to ensure that: (a) we encourage the new generation that is required; (b) we ensure that the new technologies developed through DOE programs can come into the market.”
Sayle also provided Kelliher with a PowerPoint presentation on behalf of his other energy clients in the so-called Clean Power Group —a consortium of a handful of the country’s biggest energy companies, including NiSource Inc., Calpine Corp., Trigen Energy Corp., and El Paso Corp—whose mission, according to the group’s website, is to “streamline requirements under the Clean Air Act for electric generating facilities while at the same time making major reductions in air emissions.”
The PowerPoint presentation, “A Comprehensive Multi-Pollutant Emission Control Strategy for Power Generation,” summarized the Clean Power Group’s support of a “cap and trade” method in addressing emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide from power plants, and included a proposal for a voluntary cap on carbon dioxide. The Clean Power Group stood to benefit from the initiative it urged Kelliher to get the White House to adopt in that the companies could release more emissions under its proposed plan than under the more restrictive rules the Clinton administration had put in place.
After receiving Sayle’s email and supporting material, Kelliher recommended that President Bush “direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose multi-pollutant legislation that would establish a flexible, market-based program to significantly reduce and cap emissions; provide regulatory certainty to allow utilities to make modifications to their plants without fear of new litigation; provide market based incentives, such as emissions-trading credits to help achieve the required reductions.”All of which the president approved and which was eventually incorporated into the National Energy Policy.
In fact, President Bush’s “Clear Skies” initiative consists of many of the points laid out months earlier in Sayle’s email to Kelliher. In addition to Kelliher’s correspondence with Sayle, he also met with oil and gas industry lobbyists who helped write executive orders that Kelliher passed on directly to the White House. Two months later, the president issued executive orders nearly identical to those Kelliher received from the lobbyists months earlier.
Jason Leopold is a freelance journalist and author of the memoir, News Junkie , due in 2006.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.