Airlines lobby on energy, but Norm Mineta despairs


Former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta is despairing. “Right now, partisan jockeying for position and Senate cloture” or the filibuster procedure make any legislation such as energy policy reform difficult, said Mineta. “I just don’t see too much being done” on energy reform. Speaking at an energy and air-service summit, Mineta said, “if not now, when?  My fear is we’re going to dribble this opportunity away until after (the presidential election in) November and then try to pick it up in January.”

But that, said Mineta, a Democrat who led the House Transportation Committee and then served in a Republican administration, will depend on the nomination of cabinet secretaries under the next president. That could easily take until June or July of 2009, says Mineta, now the vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton and still one of Washington’s  ’go-to’ guys on airline issues.

He spoke as the airlines launched a lobbying campaign in conjunction with unions, school bus and truck drivers, service station operators and the like. SOS NOW is the campaign’s moniker, for Stop Oil Speculation Now. The group

is pushing for some sort of bill in the next 30 days, a goal that UAL chief executive Glenn Tilton says is feasible. ATA chief Jim May says that the campaign, which would increase regulation of futures traders, has generated a million messages in the last three days alone.


Short-term legislation on energy speculation is in fact possible, and Jim Coon, the Republican staff director of the House Transportation Committee, said, “The airlines have done a formidable job of bringing the issue to Congress.” The airlines have sent letters to many of their frequent flyers asking them to click on a link asking Congress to act on speculation. The energy summit was sponsored by most major Washington “alphabet” airline-trade groups and organized by the American Association of Airport Executives.




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