Clean air, water rules spark different responses

By LARRY MARGASAK | November 26, 2011 | 3:35 AM EST

In this photo taken June 16, 2009, Anthony Earley Jr., then-chairman and CEO of DTE Energy, speaks at the National Summit in Detroit, Mich. Large and small utility companies have told Republican-led congressional committees what the party wants to hear: dire predictions of plant closings and layoffs if the Obama administration succeeds with plans to further curb air and water pollution. "Without the right policy, we could be headed for disaster," Early told a committee on April 16. Earley is now chairman and CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Companies complaining about tighter air and water pollution standards may be saying one thing to lawmakers and another to regulators and investors.

The Associated Press compared companies' congressional testimony to company reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reports consistently said the impact of environmental proposals is unknown or would not cause serious financial harm.

That's different from testimony to Republican-led congressional committees. Companies large and small made dire predictions of plant closings and layoffs if the Obama administration succeeds with plans to further curb air and water pollution.

The disparity in the messages shows that in a political environment, business has no misgivings about describing potential economic horror stories to lawmakers. Republicans plan to make what they say is regulatory overreach a 2012 campaign issue.