Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Natural gas industry amasses $80 million war chest to lobby Senate

WASHINGTON - The natural-gas industry - after failing to lobby on the energy-climate bill passed by the House - has amassed an $80 million war chest to ensure it gets a shot at the legislation in the Senate.
"The natural-gas industry wasn't at the table," said Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, an environmental group that lobbied heavily on the bill. "And if you aren't at the table, you're on the menu."
The 1,428-page bill holds something for every key industry - coal, utilities, autos, wind and solar - but nothing for natural gas.
"The natural-gas industry was done in by its own complacency," said Keith Rattie, chief executive of Salt Lake City-based natural-gas producer Questar Inc.
But the industry and its allies are girding for a lobbying blitzkrieg in the Senate.
Colorado Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet both say they will take up the fight.
Rattie said that in addition to the big money raised, the industry has a new organization, America's Natural Gas Alliance, to fill a lobbying void in Washington.
"We were just setting up when the key House negotiations were under way," said Rod Lowman, the alliance's chief executive.
Right now, the bill's only program for natural gas is a study on the effectiveness of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel.
The bill includes $60 billion for clean-coal technology, financial incentives for making electric cars and a national renewable-energy standard that would boost demand for wind and solar power.

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