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Good Government Group Questions Entergy's Lobbying Efforts

A good government group in New York is concerned about some of the lobbying activities of the parent company of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. To this end, the group is urging a state commission on ethics to investigate. Meanwhile, an Indian Point spokesman says the plant’s parent is operating within the law.

The findings are from Common Cause New York, which released a report detailing Entergy’s political spending – both via campaign contributions and lobbying - from 2005 to 2012. Entergy is the parent company of Buchanan-based Indian Point. Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner calls two findings, in particular, unusual. First, she alleges that Entergy has engaged in astroturfing, or astroturf grassroots lobbying and coalition building. She defines astroturfing as creating front-group organizations which do not disclose their connection to their corporate sponsor while attempting to exert influence on the sponsor’s behalf.

She refers to two groups. One is SHARE NY, or Safe, Healthy, Affordable and Reliable Energy, a non-profit coalition of organizations which, according to their mission statement, is, “committed to ensuring reliable, clean, and affordable electricity.”  The second group is NY AREA, or Affordable Reliability Electricity Alliance.

Jerry Nappi is a spokesman for Entergy. He says it’s no secret that Entergy is behind the two groups.

Upon visiting the web sites of NY AREA and SHARE, it is apparent that Entergy is a member of SHARE, under the banner of membership. No such explicit affiliation could readily be seen at the NY AREA site.

Susan Lerner claims there could be a violation on the part of Entergy when it comes to Source of Funding regulations, and SHARE. She is urging the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, which is charged with ensuring compliance with lobbying reporting, to look into the matter.

Upon hearing of Common Cause’s intent with regard to JCOPE, Entergy’s Jerry Nappi replies:

The Common Cause New York report also looks at Entergy’s political spending, and finds a ramping up of political spending as license renewal times for the two reactors draw near.

The license for Indian Point Two is due for renewal in September, but the plant will continue to operate until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission makes a decision, which could be at least one year away, given that more hearings on the matter will be held. The license renewal for Indian Point Three is due in 2015.  Again, here’s Lerner.

The report notes that Entergy’s contributions are concentrated at the state and local legislative levels, with zero dollars going to Governor Andrew Cuomo, an Indian Point opponent.

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