A coalition of industry heavyweights on Thursday launched what its calling a do-or-die campaign to influence the regulation of U.S. energy production.
Seventy-six business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Gas Association, have agreed to dedicate necessary resources to “vigorously participate” in every facet of President Obama’s effort to tackle climate change through regulation, said Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
“We plan to be present every step of the way,” Harbert said.
That includes everything from lobbying to litigation, as well a full-court press on agencies drafting new rules that business groups fear will stunt the nation’s domestic energy boom.
“We do this because we want a better outcome,” she said. “Not because we want to throw obstacles in the way.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a series of new rules meant to counter the effects of global warming, including new emissions standards for both existing and new power plants.
Those rules, the centerpiece of the president’s plan, threaten to further damage a coal industry that is already reeling, according to members of the new Partnership for a Better Energy Future.
As of Thursday, there were 30,000 fewer coal miners at work in the United States than there were 20 months ago, said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association.
The group said the administration is bound to move onto other industries once the power plant rules are in place.
“Quite simply, we know what’s at stake,” said NAM President Jay Timmons. “When the EPA is through with power plants, it will move on to manufacturing facilities. We all know we will be next.”
Natural-gas production, which has seen explosive growth thanks to technological advances in recent years, is also in the administration’s crosshairs, according to the coalition.
President Obama gave a nod to the industry in this week’s State of the Union address, though regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” are now in the works.
American Gas Association President Dave McCurdy, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, said the coalition would need to protect a single-minded push toward renewable energy production.
“I believe climate change is real — I believe we have to move to a lower carbon future,” McCurdy said. “But you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Members of the coalition said they were prepared to dedicate whatever resources are necessary to the effort. Christopher Jahn, president of The Fertilizer Institute, described the push as a “bet-the-farm-type situation.”
“We’re not tin-cupping,” added Harbert, who didn’t put a dollar figure on the effort.
— This story has been corrected to reflect that Dave McCurdy is a former Democratic congressman.