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Fuel Fight The deal in the House of Representatives a week ago on a major energy bill set higher fuel economy standards, encouraged ethanol use, and rescinded tax breaks for energy companies. It also showed the limits of lobbying. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided to put her muscle behind an agreement, last-minute visits by auto executives and months of lobbying couldn’t change her mind on key provisions � especially the rollback of tax breaks for the oil industry and renewable fuel issues. “There are a lot of aspects in the current bill that are not good for the oil and gas industry, and that needs to be modified,” says Drew Maloney of Ogilvy Government Relations, which represents Chevron, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. Maloney declined to discuss the firm’s strategy, but many lobbyists for energy interests say they aren’t happy with the proposed bill and don’t believe it can win approval in the Senate � much less escape a White House veto. Still, they acknowledge that they may have lost in the House. “Obviously, we’re going to continue to work with the senators… to encourage them not to just accept the bill that looks likely to come over from the House and ask them to continue to work with us to come up with a more reasonable bill,” says Andy Wright, a vice president at Dutko Worldwide and head of the firm’s energy, environment, and sustainability team. Dutko represents Duke Energy and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. The National Association of Manufacturers is also disappointed and has sent letters to members of Congress asking them to modify the legislation. Jay Timmons, NAM’s senior vice president for policy and government relations, says the group is lobbying key senators and continues to try and influence the legislation in the House. Energy lobbyists are also reminding rank-and-file members that their votes will have consequences, a message they want to be sure gets delivered to the House leadership. � Carrie Levine
Making New Friends Democrats Dennis Hertel, a former congressman from Michigan, and Lauri Fitz-Pegado, former assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce in the Clinton administration, will be the first two Democratic partners in the Livingston Group. The firm, founded eight years ago and led by former Louisiana Republican Rep. Bob Livingston, skews heavily Republican. But over the past year and a half, as Democrats have ascended to power in Washington, Livingston has said the firm must become bipartisan. Fitz-Pegado, also the firm’s first female and African-American partner, says, “I have always felt that this has been an open firm and embracing of other ways of thinking.” And Hertel says he’s excited to be lobbying a Democratic majority that he says “presents great business opportunities” for Livingston. The firm may bring on more Dem lobbyists, Hertel says. Hertel has been with the Livingston Group for two years and Fitz-Pegado for five; both direct practice groups. The new partnerships are effective Jan. 1. Livingston declined to disclose the percentage of the firm owned by each of the six partners, but says he has worked well with the two new partners in the past and is excited about the change. Still, “was it prompted by the new majority? Yes, it was,” he says. But “we are now a fully bipartisan firm.” � Carrie Levine
Fishy Business Add one more trade association to the list of those plying the halls of Congress: the open-water fish-farming industry. Last month, Jane Greaves Sargent and Richard Spees of Akerman Senterfitt registered to lobby for the Ocean Stewards Institute, a nascent trade association representing “offshore aquaculture” (think agriculture, but in the ocean, raising fish.) The association joins some established aquaculture industry voices, including the National Fisheries Institute and the National Aquaculture Association. “We’re a subset of a subset,” Spees says, adding that, while his group enjoys good relations with its larger brethren, that could change if fishing companies come to see ocean-farmed products as a threat. Environmental groups also fear the impact of offshore fish farms. Proponents of aquaculture argue that it can alleviate overfishing, and Spees says demonstrating the industry’s eco-sensitive credibility is vital to its success. “Ultimately, it will be a branding thing,” Spees says. � Jeff Horwitz

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