Electric utility American Electric Power Co. spent $2 million lobbying the government in the first quarter on clean air and clean water rules, according to a recent disclosure report.
That's about half of the $3.6 million that the company spent in the fourth quarter of last year, and about 40 percent less than the $3.3 million it spent in the first quarter of 2010.
The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of tightening clean air standards, reducing the amount of pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that utilities and others are allowed to release into the air. Two-thirds of AEP's electric generation capacity comes from coal-fired power plants, a major source of these pollutants.
AEP and other coal-heavy utilities have argued that the clean-air rules are tightening too fast, leading to high costs for equipment that removes pollutants from smoke. AEP also wants Congress to block the EPA from regulating emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change, which are generated in large amounts by burning coal and other fossil fuels.
A 2007 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court gave the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act in the absence of separate legislation. Democrats, Republicans, industry leaders and even the EPA all agree separate legislation would be preferable, but Congress has been unable to agree on new rules.
AEP, based in Columbus, Ohio, serves 5.2 million customers in 11 states and has 80 power plants. AEP also operates the nation's largest electric transmission network. The company lobbied for changes in the way costs for transmission lines are allocated in hopes of making it easier to build lines across states.
AEP also lobbied the government on support for electric vehicles and clean water rules that affect how power plants are cooled.
In the first three months of 2011, AEP lobbied Congress, the EPA and the Small Business Administration according to the report filed April 19 with the House clerk's office. Lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches of government under a federal law enacted in 1995.