K Street Files: Too Much Green Tape’

Posted April 21, 2009 at 6:15pm

Adding yet another acronym to the Washington lexicon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week announced a new campaign to take on the NIMBYs, or “Not in My Backyard— folks, who the chamber claims are blocking new energy projects at the expense of jobs, infrastructure and economic prosperity.

[IMGCAP(1)]The centerpiece of the campaign, dubbed “Project No Project,— is an interactive Web site that features a state-by-state analysis of more than 250 energy and infrastructure projects the chamber says have been delayed or canceled over the past few years.

The business group says that environmental activists who support the creation of green jobs through new energy technologies are the same local activists blocking projects in their communities through “green tape— tactics such as lawsuits, opposition to permits and zoning laws.

“It’s the people with the goals of greening the economy and creating new energy who are also the NIMBYs,— said Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation and infrastructure at the chamber. “This can’t be a never-ending story.—

The new initiative includes a series of print ads running in Beltway publications this week, social-networking outreach and a grass-roots call to action to its 3 million members, all designed to achieve a legislative solution to the problem.

“Ultimately, we want Congress to take on this issue,— said Ross Eisenberg, environment and energy counsel for the chamber. “We’d like to see, in whatever legislation it may be, language that would streamline the siting and permitting process for energy and infrastructure projects.—

The “Project No Project— Web site highlights high-profile instances, such as the Cape Wind project off the coast of Nantucket, Mass., where energy projects have been delayed, but also allows users to submit their own stories for the chamber to verify and include on the site.

“We are literally adding more every day,— Eisenberg said.

Here’s Prayin’. Members and staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee may be getting some religion to help them make it through this week’s marathon session of climate change hearings: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 12 national Catholic organizations has announced a new global warming campaign.

The Catholic Climate Covenant, described by organizers as an “unprecedented initiative,— calls on Catholics around the world to take the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor to pray, learn, assess, act and advocate on climate change. The campaign’s launch this week signals the intent of organizers to ensure that climate change legislation includes specific measures to address the impact changing temperatures has on the world’s poor.

“Our message is quite simple,— said John Carr, executive director of the department of justice, peace and human development with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Put the poor first in responding to climate change.—

The Catholic Climate Coalition, the group organizing the campaign, sent mailings this month to all 17,000 Catholic parishes and 6,300 Catholic elementary schools in the nation, and will continue to run ads in Catholic publications over the next two weeks. Ads with the tagline “Who is Under Your Carbon Footprint?— ran yesterday in the New York Times and several inside-the-Beltway publications.

The campaign plans to target key members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, beginning with a series of meetings to mobilize Catholic charity organizations in California, the home state of the committee’s chairman, Democrat Henry Waxman.

“This is a work of faith, not politics,— Carr said. “But some Catholics will have more influence than others because of the role their leaders play, and we’ll be making particular efforts to make sure they’re in touch.—

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