Jeffrey R. Holmstead

Jeffrey R. Holmstead


  • J.D., Yale Law School, 1987. [1]
  • B.A., summa cum laude, Brigham Young University, 1984. [1]


Jeffrey R. Holmstead is a partner and attorney for Bracewell LLP in Washington, DC (formerly Bracewell & Giuliani*) where he has headed their “Environmental Strategies Group (ESG)” since 2006. The ESG reportedly works to “advise and defend companies and business groups confronting major environmental and energy-development challenges, both domestically and globally.” Holmstead previously served as Associate Counsel to President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, where he was “deeply involved” in the passage and amendments to the Clean Air Act. Holmstead’s work with the Clean Air Act earned him the title of “Clean Air Villain of the Month” by the Clean Air Trust. [1][2]

Holmstead then moved to the corporate law firm Lantham & Watkins until 2001, another law firm representing industry interests and combatting regulations on mercury pollution from coal & oil power plants. [3], [1], [4]

From 2001 to 2005, Holmstead served as the EPA‘s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation under the Bush administration, a position that Polluterwatch reports Holmstead used to stall mercury pollution controls in US power plants for over eight years. [5]

Holmstead’s appointment at the EPA was controversial and protested by US Senators due to his previous lobbying work for coal companies. Jeffrey Holmstead has been described as a prime example of a “revolving door lobbyist“—a term that OpenSecrets defines as “a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers.” [6][7], [8]

In 2017, according to Axios, President Trump initially considered Jeffrey Holmstead for a number two position at the EPA. In April 2018, Andrew Wheeler was instead confirmed to serve as Deputy EPA Administer. Wheeler went on to work as Acting Administrator with Scott Pruitt‘s departure. [44], [45], [46]

While Holmstead has also been described as “one of the nation’s leading climate change lawyers,” he has lobbied extensively for the coal and energy industries with clients including Duke EnergySouthern Company​AmerenArch CoalProgress EnergyDTE EnergySalt River Project, and others. Holmstead was also an adjunct scholar with the Citizens for the Environment, a group created by Koch Industries’ now-defunct Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE)[1][9][3]

*Bracewell LLP was renamed in 2016 after the departure of its founder, former New York City mayor Rudy Giulani. [10]

Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC)

Jeffrey Holmstead is counsel to the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC), a group that describes itself as “a broad-based coalition of energy companies committed to the continued viability of diverse, affordable and reliable electric power supply in the United States.” Members of the ERCC “include some of the major electric utilities companies in the country who all possess the shared belief that coal-based energy should play an important role as our nation moves toward a clean energy future.” The ERCC‘s director, Scott Segal, is also a partner at Bracewell LLP. [11][12][13], [14]

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins worked along with Holmstead to weaken legislation to reduce mercury pollution from coal and oil power plants. According to DC Bureau,  Latham & Watkins’s “attorneys outlined an anemic cap-and-trade system to address mercury pollution from coal and oil fired plants. The firm’s recommendations were written to behoove industry clients.” [3]

“A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins – one of Washington’s premier corporate environmental law firms – shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions,” The Washington Post reported. [15]

Holmstead, while working as associate administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, was responsible for drafting the mercury rule and used language from the Latham & Watkins memo. Prior to working in the Bush administration, Holmstead worked with Latham & Watkins to represent groups like the Alliance for Constructive Air Policy, a utility front group that focused on state smog standards. [3]

Stance on Climate Change

“I’m not sure the big debates are around the science, the big debates are around well, what is it that we should do… It’s really a technology issue, and I think the only effective way to deal with climate change is to make sure we’re investing in technologies that will give people what we get today from fossil fuels at a cost that’s cost competitive.

If I were in charge of climate change policy in the government, I would certainly want to invest more in those kinds of technology breakthroughs.  And we’re seeing some encouraging things, but I think… if this is only about making people’s energy more expensive, making it harder for people to have the things that they have today with fossil fuels, I think it’s very hard to overcome human nature.  But if there are technologies that can actually give us those same things without those CO2 issues and at a comparable cost, I think that’s the only way we actually end up dealing with climate change.” [16]

On Mercury

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), some of Jeffrey Holmstead’s statements on the toxicity of mercurcy during his time at the EPA directly contradict statements he made while working for Bracewell & Giuliani: [17]

Statements by Holmstead of EPA when Holmstead headed EPA program (2001-2005)

“Reducing power plants’ air pollution would result in ‘14,100 fewer premature deaths,’ among other ‘significant health benefits,’ ‘by dramatically reducing fine particle pollution caused by SO2 and NOx emissions.’

EPA estimates that reducing power plants’ SO2 and NOx emissions by approximately 60% will deliver ‘particulate matter-related annual benefits’ that include 13,000-17,000 fewer premature fatalities every year. “

Statements by Holmstead while at Bracewell & Giuliani (2011)

I don’t believe that there are thousands of people who are dying because of exposure to these small [particles],” i.e. particulate matter.

It is pretty hard to say that [mercury from coal-fired power plants] is a significant public health issue.”

Key Quotes

January 10, 2019

Holmstead was quoted in a Roll Call article, noting that the government shutdown and doubts that President Trump would win re-election were worrying his industry clients that their deregulatory agenda may be delayed or not carried through in time. [47]

I don’t think agencies are necessarily going to be able to pick up where they left off,” said Jeff Holmstead. “It’s now gone on long enough that there are certainly starting to be concerns by industry.”

“There are some people who really support the regulatory reforms and are concerned that the administration is already behind on some things. The longer it drags on, the more challenging it will become. There’s no doubt that keeping the government shut down for too much longer certainly puts at risk some of the things that they’re trying to do.”

February 2016

I think the likelihood that [the EPA rules] will ever go into effect is pretty low,” Holmstead says. “There needs to be some sort of congressional action to decide how the United States is going to deal with climate change.” [18]

“Until the Clean Power Plan, the federal government has never said that states must shut down certain types of plants and build others to replace them.  States like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and South Dakota believe that EPA has gone well beyond its statutory authority in ordering the construction of new wind and solar plants. Even if EPA is, to some extent, requiring them to do things they are doing anyway, they simply don’t believe that EPA has this authority.” [19]

November 11, 2011

“The answer isn’t just to regulate our way to clean energy.” — Politico Energy Forum (video below). [20]

June 7, 2011

“The benefits of reducing mercury are very insignificant.” — Video Below [21]


With regards to his move from a government regulator, to a lobbyist for those he was regulating:

“I, I’m not sure why, uh, people have tried to make something of that. But people have to have jobs. And that’s the way it works.” [22]


Since joining Bracewell LLP in 2007, Holmstead’s clients have included almost exclusively coal and energy companies including: [23], [9]

Former Clients

Grand Total — $22,611,500

Other Clients

Key Deeds

February 2016

Jeffrey Holmstead is representing clients suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a rule aiming for utilities to shift away from coal-fired power plants and move towards renewable energy sources, The Wall Street Journal reports. [25]

July 7, 2015

Politico interviewed Jeffrey Holmstead about why the industry expects the Clean Power Plan to be overturned. Some excerpts below:

“I find it very hard to believe that the courts will ultimately uphold the rule, unless it changes a lot. We’ve only seen the proposal, but I think if you …had to choose one way to oppose the rule, you would say you’d do it in court, because it really is hard to see how the courts would uphold this.”

[…] I’ve spent the last 25 years working on Clean Air Act issues and I can say with some confidence that the act doesn’t work very well, if the goal is to get a level of environmental protection at the lowest possible cost. We’re paying a lot more than we need to for the reductions that we’re getting because there’s so much underbrush here.  People are starting to talk about another round of Clean Air Act reauthorization.” [16]

September 11, 2014

Jeffrey Holmstead was disqualified by a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against the coal burning utility company Ameren Missouri. The EPA had filed the case in 2011, claiming Ameren violated the Clean Air Act by failing to notify the agency of major modifications to multiple units at the plant. [26]

Polluterwatch reports that Judge Rodney Sippel granted U.S. Justice Department’s request to remove Holmstead as a witness, confirming that the lobbyist’s history at U.S. EPA posed “multiple conflicts of interest.” [27], [28]

Below is the judge’s motion to dismiss Jeffrey Holmstead, with emphasis added: [29]

Mr. Holmstead’s legal opinions are irrelevant, speculative, and inadmissible.” […] “By his own description, Mr. Holmstead’s testimony relies on his recollection of EPA “internal meetings” that he says are relevant to the issues to be tried in this action. Such internal communications are privileged and confidential and Mr. Holmstead may not rely on his recollection of them to testify against EPA. Moreover, Mr. Holmstead received other privileged information concerning the issues about which he now seeks to testify on behalf of Ameren, and participated in power-plants enforcement cases related to this one while at EPA. Before he left EPA, he even personally provided a declaration for EPA that is at issue in this and other related power-plants enforcement cases asserting privilege claims on behalf of EPA over documents that are relevant to the opinions he now seeks to offer. Yet he now seeks to change sides and testify against EPA. Moreover, he was assisted in the preparation of his report by another former EPA attorney who was involved in the early stages of the investigation that ultimately led to the filing of this case. For the reasons discussed in the accompanying Memorandum, Mr. Holmstead should not be allowed to testify in this matter due to his multiple conflicts of interest. [29]

July 30, 2014

Jeffrey Holmstead testified before before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on the EPA‘s carbon plan. Holmstead leads his testimony with two stated concerns: [30]

“(1) EPA’s proposal goes well beyond its legal authority under the Clean Air Act by trying to force states to regulate anything that produces or uses electricity; and (2) EPA has been so distracted by the notion that it can fundamentally change the electricity system in all 50 states that it has not done the technical work needed to develop legally sound regulations to reduce carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants.” [30]

June 18, 2014

Jeffrey Holmstead was on a panel discussion on the EPA‘s Clean Power Plan hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center. [31]

With regards to the Clean Power Rule, Holstead said that “As someone who believes in the rule of law, I think this clearly goes beyond what EPA is allowed to do under the Clean Air Act.” After the panel discussion, Holmstead was questioned by Greenpeace representatives. Some comments and the full video below: [32]

Greenpeace: “All the technical expertise you have, and the experience you have with the EPA and lawyer, If you recognize the threat and the cost of climate change, why not use these skills in a way to help agencies solve this problem? It seems like every time there is a solution proposed, perhaps for obvious reasons—if you’re hired by Southern Company or Duke Energy you’re opposing the rules—but there’s never a solutions to any of that”

Holmstead: “That’s not true. We propose a lot of solutions, they’re just solutions that you don’t like.” [32]

June 5, 2014

Jeffrey Holmstead talked at a Resources for the Future seminar titled “Making Sense of EPA’s Proposed Rule for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants” on a panel discussion titled “EPA‘s Proposed Rule: Challenges and Opportunities.” [33] Transcript is available for download here. [34]

September 2013

OpenSecrets reports that Jeffrey Holmstead was lobbying against GHG restrictions proposed by the EPA, working with Bracewell & Giuliani to represent the interests of major coal producers including Arch Coal, which spent nearly $600,000 lobbying in 2013. Holmstead’s firm also represented Ameren Corp and DTE Energy which spent $634,000 and $860,000 respectively lobbying in 2013, listing clean air regulations and climate controls among their concerns. [35]

November 2012

Gabe Elsner of the The Checks and Balances Project confronted Jeffrey Holmstead on why he failed to disclose his ties to the coal industry at an “Energy and Presidency” event sponsored by Politico (Video below). [36]

The Checks and Balances project also analysed 50 mainstream news stories mentioning Holmstead and found that his ties to the coal industry were only mentioned 36% of the time.

May 13, 2010

Jeff Holmstead released the following statement opposing the EPA‘s greenhouse gas “tailoring” rule: [11]

“With this rule, the Administration is trying to use the Clean Air Act to do something it was never intended to do. They’re basically trying to pound a large square peg into a small round hole, and their efforts will have serious legal and economic consequences. The decision to require permits for greenhouse gases means that thousands of construction projects around the country will be blocked or delayed by several years. If the tailoring rule is upheld in court, then the Administration’s temporary construction ban will only stop about 1,600 hundred of the largest projects planned for next year. But if the rule is overturned – and many lawyers believe it will be – then EPA itself estimates that the new rules will block or delay construction on more than 80,000 projects that would otherwise be creating jobs all over the country.” [11]

September 2009

Jeffrey Holmstead worked with  Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) to write a controversial amendment to limit the EPA‘s authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. [37]

“Murkowski’s proposed amendment to the Clean Air Act has been attacked by Obama administration officials and environmental advocates as an industry-led attempt to hamstring efforts to regulate carbon — the only option available in the absence of a viable Senate climate change bill,” reports Politico.  [37]

In an interview, Holmstead said of the Murkowski amendment, “I certainly worked with her staff” on the exact phrasing of the measure in September reports The Washington Post. [38]

“I was involved,” he said, adding that Robert J. Martella also helped advise Murkowski’s aides on the matter. “The line out of the White House and the administration was that the amendment would block the car and truck rule” setting the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on emissions from vehicles. [38]

Desmogblog noted that Senator Murkowski had received $470,000 in campaign contributions from energy and mining industries since 2005, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. [39], [40]

April 2003

Polluterwatch reports that, in his role at the EPA, Holmstead dismantled the EPA-sponsored Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology) working group which consisted of 20 experts from the utility industry, state and local air quality offices and environmental group which were confident a Utility MACT rule under the Clean Air Act should be implemented to control mercury emissions from power plants. The Utility MACT Working Group was never reconvened under the Bush EPA. [5]

Shortly after the working group was disbanded, the New York Times reported that EPA employees in Holmstead’s department were told “either not to analyze or not to release information about mercury, carbon dioxide and other air pollutants,” in order to be consistent with the Bush Administration’s unscientific political positions. [41]

March 2002

The Clean Air Trust named Jeffrey Holmstead the “Clean Air Villain if the Month” for promoting a “dirty-air bill” and “[undermining] enforcement.”  [2]

“We are extremely reluctant to make this choice, because Holmstead is the federal government’s top politically appointed official charged with regulating air pollution,” said Clean Air Trust executive director Frank O’Donnell. “But we are hard pressed to find anyone else – either inside or outside of government – who appears to be working so hard against pollution cleanup.

“Indeed, when Holmstead recently announced publicly that the President would veto any Clean Air Act amendments unless they gutted the key enforcement program of the law – new source review – his designation as ‘villain’ became not only obvious, but essential,” O’Donnell added.

“Now that a federal appeals court has upheld EPA‘s national clean air standards for smog and soot, it’s time for EPA officials like Holmstead to enforce the law rather than spend their time trying to weaken or repeal it.” [2]


As an assistant administrator at EPA under George W. Bush, Holmstead dismantled technology-based mercury standards moving forward under the Clean Air Act and proposed the “Clear Skies Initiative,” which would have allowed “three times as much mercury as the Clean Air Act.” [42]


  • Bracewell & Giuliani (2006-Current) — Attorney [9]
  • Environmental Protection Agency (2001-2005) — Assistant Admin for Air & Radiation [9]
  • Latham & Watkins (1993-2001)—Partner  [9]
  • Executive Office of the President (1989-1993)—Associate Counsel [9]
  • Citizens for the Environment (project of now-defunct Citizens for a Sound Economy— Previous Adjunct Scholar [3], [43]


  1. Jeffrey R. Holmstead: Partner,” Bracewell LLP. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  2. Clean Air Villain of the Month,” Clean Air Trust, March, 2002. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  3. The Polluters’ Lawyers,” DC Bureau, November 3, 2011. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  4. Jeff Holmstead Testimony on EPA‘s Carbon Plan,” Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, July 29, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  5. Connor Gibson. “Jeffrey Holmstead: the Coal Industry’s Mercury Lobbyist (Report),” Polluterwatch, December 21, 2011. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  6. Connor Gibson. “Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead Disqualified by Federal Judge in Ameren Pollution Lawsuit,” PolluterWatch. Republished by DeSmogBlog, September 12, 2014.
  7. Josh Harkinson. “Revolving Door: Climate Edition,” Mother Jones, December 14, 2009.
  8. “Revolving Door,” Accessed May 24, 2016.
  9. Holmstead, Jeffrey,” Profile at Accessed May 24, 2016.
  10. Sara Randazzo. “Bracewell & Giuliani is Losing … Giuliani,” The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2016. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  11. Statement from ERCC Counsel Jeff Holmstead on the EPA‘s GHG Tailoring Rule,” Electric Reliability Coordinating Counsel, May 13, 2010. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  12. What is ERCC?” Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  13. Statement from ERCC Director Scott H. Segal at a Public Hearing on National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From Coal- and Oil-Fired Electric Utility Steam Generating Units,” Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, May 24, 2011. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  14. Scott H. Segal: Partner,” Bracewell LLP. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  15. Eric Pianin. “Proposed Mercury Rules Bear Industry Mark,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2004. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  16. Darren Samuelsohn. “Inside the fight against Obama’s climate plan,” Politico, July 7, 2015. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  17. John Walke. “Desperate Denial: Utility Pollution Apologists Deny Harms From Air Pollution or Health Benefits From Cleaning It Up,” Natural Resources Defense Council, June 14, 2011. Archived May 25, 2016. WebCite URL
  18. Jeff Tollefson. “US Supreme Court puts Obama climate regulations on hold,” Nature, February 10, 2016. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  19. Chris Mooney. “These states are setting wind energy records – and suing over Obama’s climate plans,” The Washington Post, February 25, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URL
  20. Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead Challenged for Protecting Polluters,” YouTube Video uploaded by user PolluterWatch, November 5, 2012.
  21. Resolved: EPA Utility MACT is the right tool at the right time,”Environmental Law Institute, June 7, 2011. (Time 25:58). Retrieved from Vimeo.
  22. Ex-Bush air man, now with Giuliani law firm, claims credit for Bush global warming stance,” Clean Air Watch, December 2, 2006. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  23. Jeffrey Holmstead,” Polluterwatch. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  24. “Full D.C. Circuit to Hear Clean Power Plan Argument,” Bloomberg BNA, May 16, 2016. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  25. Brent Kendall and Amy Harder. “Supreme Court Puts EPA Carbon Rule on Hold During Litigation,” The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2016.
  26. Jeremy P. Jacobs. “AIR POLLUTION:Judge bars former EPA official from testifying in enforcement suit,” E&E Publishing, September 10, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  27. Connor Gibson. “Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead Disqualified by Federal Judge in Ameren Pollution Lawsuit,” Polluterwatch, September 11, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  28. Patrick Ambrosio. “Former EPA Official Should Be Disqualified As Expert Witness, Justice Dept. Tells Court,” Bloomberg BNA, July 22, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite Url:
  29. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v.  AMEREN MISSOURI, Defendant,” UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI EASTERN DIVISION. Civil Action No. 4:11-cv-00077-RWS. Filed 07/18.14. Retrieved from Bloomberg Law. Archived .pdf on file at DesmogBlog.
  30. Jeff Holmstead Testimony on EPA‘s Carbon Plan,” Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, July 29, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  31. Discussing EPA’s Newly-Released Clean Power Plan,” Bipartisan Policy Center, June 18, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  32. Connor Gibson. “K Street Confrontation: Greenpeace Questions Coal Lobbyist Jeff Holmstead (VIDEO),” Greenpeace USA. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  33. Making Sense of EPA’s Proposed Rule for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants,” Resources for the Future, June 5, 2014. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  34. Making Sense of EPA’s Proposed Rule for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants” (PDF), Resources for the Future. Archived .pdf on file at DesmogBlog.
  35. Brandon Conradis. “Former EPA Official Lobbies Against Plan to Curb Greenhouse Gases,” OpenSecrets, September 16, 2013. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  36. Confessions of a Coal Lobbyist,” November 16, 2012. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL:
  37. Glenn Thrush. “Lobbyists led meeting on Murkowski EPA amendment,” Politico, January 13, 2010. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  38. Juliet Eilperin. “Murkowski and her lobbyist allies,” The Washington Post, January 11, 2010. Archived May 24, 2016.
  39. Brendan DeMelle. “Murkowski Amendment To Protect Polluters Was Written By Dirty Polluter Lobbyists,” DeSmogBlog, January 11, 2010.
  40. Sen. Lisa Murkowski: Top Industries, 2005-2010,” Profile at OpenSecrets. Archived May 24, 2016. WebCite URL
  41. Jennifer Lee. “Critics Say E.P.A. Won’t Analyze Clean Air Proposals Conflicting With President’s Policies,” The New York Times, July 14, 2003. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  42. Bruce Barcott. “Changing All the Rules,” The New York Times Magazine, April 4, 2004. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  43. Brad Johnson. “Romney Getting Energy Advice From Bush Pollution Lobbyist Jeffrey R. Holmstead,” ThinkProgress, May 11, 2011. Archived May 23, 2016. WebCite URL
  44. Scoop: Jeff Holmstead expected to be #2 at EPA,” Axios, June 19, 2017. Archived July 12, 2017. URL
  45. Connor Gibson. “Trump To Tap Jeff Holmstead for EPA? Swamp Alert!DeSmog, June 22, 2017.
  46. (Press Release). “U.S. Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler to Serve as Deputy EPA Administrator,” EPA, April 12, 2018. Archived January 14, 2019. URL:
  47. Shutdown ties up Trump’s fossil fuel agenda,” Roll Call, January 10, 2019. Archived January 14, 2019. URL

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