Bush climate change experts still pushing policy

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The Bush administration may have packed its boxes, but members of its climate change policy team have unloaded theirs at addresses all around Washington.

They spent the past eight years taking a hard line on climate change legislation: opposing mandates to lower greenhouse gas emissions and making the economic case against climate legislation. Now, they’re installed in new venues from which to continue influencing U.S. climate policy:

Take James L. Connaughton, who touted “aspirational” (rather than binding) greenhouse gas targets as Bush’s former chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as director of its Office of Environmental Policy. This month, he moved to corporate affairs at the Fortune 500 company Constellation Energy, dealing in public and environmental policy.

Or Harlan Watson, who helped push the Bush administration’s line as the nation’s lead negotiator during the 2005 Montreal climate talks. (He was recommended to that post in part by ExxonMobil.) This January, Watson moved to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, where Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, appointed him to serve on his professional staff.

Then there’s Karen Harbert, lately promoted to president and chief executive officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. (The Chamber has been among the most vocal opponents of climate action.) Previously, Harbert worked under the Bush administration at the Department of Energy as assistant secretary for policy and international affairs.

As the debate over climate legislation heats up, don’t expect these voices to dim.

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