As noted last week, employees of Latham & Watkins were the single biggest group of local law firm donors to the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama, giving a grand total of $9361, sizably more than the $5800 that the firm’s members gave to the GOP’s John McCain. And now comes this news: David J. Hayes — until recently a Washington-based Latham partner whose title was “Global Chair” of the giant firm’s environment, land, and resources department — has been named “agency review” team leader by Obama’s presidential transition office. Hayes is in charge of looking over the departments of Interior, Energy, and Agriculture “to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisers with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration.”

In other words, he’ll have something to say about who will be running the agencies as they go about their work regulating giant utilities and other big polluters. Turns out that one assignment Hayes had at Latham & Watkins was lobbying on behalf of San Diego Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy. Before that he was deputy secretary at Interior during the Clinton years.

According to a lobbying disclosure statement filed with the House of Representatives in February of this year, the specific lobbying work handled by Latham for SDG&E centered around “general transmission line siting and permitting issues.” That’s a reference to the firm’s bid to build the Sunrise Powerlink, a line through Anza-Borrego state park; as a result of Latham’s efforts, the Bush administration’s Department of Energy approved a critical transmission corridor designation for the pending project, which has since run into state regulatory resistance.

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