Energy Lobby Split on Climate, Thrilling Greens

Natural gas companies squabble with Big Oil as Senate negotiates
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2009 6:30 AM CDT
Al Gore testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on global climate change.    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – With the Senate set to consider legislation to tax carbon and rein in global warming, a split has emerged among the energy lobby that may make it easier to pass a clean-energy law. Natural gas producers favor a bill, while their colleagues in the oil industry oppose it; electric companies are sparring over whether to favor coal or renewables; and wind and solar producers are angling for advantages. All the confused lobbying, says one environmentalist, "tells you people believe it is real."

Petrified oil producers have been flogging studies warning of $5-a-gallon gasoline under a cap-and-trade program—and a coal PR firm was caught sending Congress letters under fake names. But natural gas producers, longtime allies of oil, have formed a separate lobby and are collaborating with the bill's sponsors to get the best possible deal. For one green analyst, the infighting is great news: "It’s much harder to pass clean-energy legislation when big oil and other energy interests are united in their opposition." (Read more Waxman-Markey stories.)