It’s one thing for lobbyists to ply governmental officials with policy requests (that’s what they do); it’s another thing for government officials to actively seek input from lobbyists when crafting national policy. But apparently, in the Bush administration, that’s what officials do: According to Energy Department documents (released following a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council), a top official emailed a leading gas industry lobbyist in March 2001 to ask for help in shaping energy policy. The email reads, in part, “If you were King, or Il Duce, what would you include in a national energy policy, especially with respect to natural gas issues? I am working up the policy elements, and … thought I would pick your brain.” The Energy Department said none of the lobbyist’s recommendations was included in the final energy policy, but environmentalists said the email was damning evidence that the Bush administration is in bed with the energy industry, and expressed frustration that the document had been released later than scheduled — and after the conclusion of the Senate’s debate over the energy bill.

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