From the Detroit Free Press: Two top Environmental Protection Agency officials who were deeply involved in last week's controversial easing of an air pollution rule for old power plants just took private-sector jobs from firms that benefit from the changes. Days after the changes in the power-plant pollution rule were announced, John Pemberton, chief of staff in EPA's air and radiation office, told colleagues he would join Southern Co. That Atlanta-based utility is the nation's No. 2 power-plant polluter and was a driving force in lobbying for the rule changes. Southern, which gave more than $3.4 million in political contributions in the last four years while it sought the rule changes, hired Pemberton as "director of federal affairs." Similarly, Tuesday, Ed Krenik, who had been EPA's associate administrator for congressional affairs, started work at Bracewell & Patterson, a top Washington law firm that had coordinated lobbying for several utilities on easing the coal-fired power-plant pollution rule. The law firm also served as home base for and shares staff with the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which was created by several utilities, including Southern Co., to be the public voice favoring the rule changes that EPA just enacted. EPA chief spokeswoman Lisa Harrison downplayed the hirings, saying neither Pemberton nor Krenik played a major role in the rule changes, which allow more than 500 older power plants to upgrade without adding pollution-control devices that would have been required without the rule change. She said Pemberton "played a minimal role on (the rule change) in the past two-and-a-half years." You would have thought they'd at least have taken a little time off first in the interim...

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