The winds of change are affecting more that just the polls leading up to the November elections.

According to Thomas Dennis, executive vice president of the lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates, the future of energy projects will change radically if Republicans capture one or both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

Thomas Dennis Photo By Patrick Verel

If Republicans take control of the House, Dennis suggested that the GOP leadership would focus much of its energy on:

• oversight hearings of the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf oil disaster;
• the E.P.A.’s activities to implement a regulatory program in response to the Supreme Court’s endangerment finding on Co2;
• and the entire question of whether climate change predictions are the result of man-made activities.

“Some might call that a witch hunt, but that tactic has been used often and effectively,” he said.

Dennis, an energy environmental lobbyist, spoke the morning of Sept. 17 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. He delivered one of three keynote addresses at the Eighth Annual Ardour Capital Energy Technology Conference. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Fordham Graduate School of Business (GBA), linked energy technology leaders with those who possess the capital to invest in them.

The message that he delivered was one a sobering one.

“Regardless of the outcome in November, it’s clear that for whichever party controls the House or the Senate, the margin of control will be very, very slim,” he said. “This is going to set up a legislative scenario where agenda-setting will be carefully managed by either a Speaker Pelosi or a Speaker Boehner.

“In either case, the ability to fashion and then execute an aggressive legislative program will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. If ever there were a prescription for gridlock, watch carefully what happens with the 112th Congress.”

The solution, he said, was to take to heart the words of former Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, who said that all politics is local.

“Your objective should be to develop informed champions for your technologies and your projects,” Dennis said. “Share what you’re doing, be concise, outline both the opportunity and the obstacles in your path. Invite members and their key staff to visit your facility. Let them kick the tires.

“They love it, and when they do, they understand what you’re doing. Talk about the jobs you have created and the jobs that can flow from the work you’re doing.”

He also cautioned them not to be critical of traditional energy sources or subsidies they may have received in the past. The United States will need to add new sources of energy such as solar, hydroelectric and wind, but it won’t stop relying on traditional sources like coal and oil anytime soon.

“I can tell you, having been there, members don’t like to hear criticism of other fuels,” he said. “We got into inner-fuel warfare years ago—I believe the natural gas industry is engaged in it right now—and they’ve made some headway, but they’ve made a lot of enemies.”


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.