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October 23, 2016

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The Policy Racket

Sierra Club tweet rankles Harry Reid

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Harry Reid

Listen up, enviros: Don’t cross Harry Reid on Twitter.

The Senate majority leader has been in a political oil slick this week along with the rest of the Senate, as lawmakers have been working their way through competing oil proposals: today, to increase drilling, and Tuesday, to rescind about $2 billion a year in subsidies to oil and gas companies.

Fifty-two senators voted for Tuesday’s measure, including Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, but didn’t include three Democrats: Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who said the measure would kill jobs in energy-producing states.

It’s not a bad showing. But not enough to pass. And that’s been the situation with all energy legislation lately: There are not enough votes to get things over a filibuster hurdle.

That has frustrated the environmental community, and today, the executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune, seemed to want to do something about it.

“Mtg w Reid and other Dem leadership today,” he tweeted. “What do u think about holding D’s accountable for votes to gut Cl Air Act/keep oil subsidies?”

Reid, when he read the tweet, was perturbed.

“I think whoever this is in the Sierra Club had better get his facts right,” Reid said of the idea that Democrats should be held accountable for the outcome of the votes. “I don’t buy the illogic of the tweet.”

The Sierra Club didn’t return a request today to clarify whether Brune was referring to specific “D’s” or the whole caucus, or whether a mistake had been made. Three Democrats voted to preserve subsidies for oil and gas companies. And Nelson, Landrieu, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia support a Republican amendment to the small-business investment bill that would have stripped greenhouse gas regulation authority from the Environmental Protection Agency. It didn’t pass.

The Hill newspaper reported this afternoon that the meeting to which Brune’s tweet refers is a sort of summit with influential environmental lobbyists, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Foundation, Environment America and the League of Conservation Voters. The groups didn’t return calls to detail what the meeting was about, and Reid wouldn’t specify, saying only: “I meet with the environmental groups all the time, it’s no big deal.”

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