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Ex-GOP Chief Memo Tried to Sway Cheney on Energy

April 26, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In a memo to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks before a major policy reversal, lobbyist and former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour urged the Bush White House to adopt a pro-industry stance on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.

"A moment of truth is arriving," Barbour wrote Cheney on March 1, 2001, in a two-page document on his lobbying firm letterhead that was copied to top White House officials and three Cabinet secretaries.

"The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore," Barbour stated.

The Commerce Department released a copy of the memo Thursday in a court case brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which is suing the Bush administration for records about White House energy policy.

The memo was one of thousands of pages of documents released by the Commerce, Energy and Transportation departments.

Announcing a policy switch two weeks after Barbour's memo, Bush went back on a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

White House spokesman Jimmy Orr said Bush was not unduly influenced by the energy industry.

In the memo, Barbour said he was "demurring" on the idea of whether regulating carbon dioxide was "eco-extremism."

But "we must ask, do environmental initiatives, which would greatly exacerbate the energy problems, trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years?" said the former RNC chairman.

Among Barbour's 50 lobbying clients at the time was an industry coalition, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council.

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