EPA's Revolving Door

"Two top Environmental Protection Agency officials who were deeply involved in easing an air pollution rule for old power plants just took private-sector jobs with firms that benefit from the changes," Knight Ridder's Seth Boronstein reports. "Days after the changes in the power-plant pollution rule were announced last week, John Pemberton, the chief of staff in the EPA's air and radiation office, told colleagues he would be joining Southern Co., an Atlanta-based utility that's the nation's No. 2 power-plant polluter and was a driving force in lobbying for the rule changes. Southern Co., which gave more than $3.4 million in political contributions over the past four years while it sought the changes, hired Pemberton as director of federal affairs." Also departing EPA is Ed Krenik, associate administrator for congressional affairs. Krenik joined Bracewell & Patterson, a top Houston-based law firm that coordinated lobbying for several utilities on easing the power-plant pollution rule and houses the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which advocated for rule changes the EPA just enacted. The revolving door goes both ways. Another EPA air and radiation administrator, Jeffrey Holmstead, previously worked as a lawyer and lobbyist for chemical companies and industry groups seeking looser pollution standards.