Editors\u2019 note: This is the last in our summer public participation series. Public meetings inside the beltway would be livelier if there were 12 nude lobbyists. Alas, it\u2019s 12 nuke lobbyists. Government agency meetings in Washington and environs are far less interactive than in San Francisco\u2014where nudity is tolerated as long as you don\u2019t sit down\u2014and even in Sacramento\u2014where pinstripes cover posteriors. There are two commissions in D.C. whose actions affect California energy policy, yet state citizens have little or no chance to have a say in their roles\u2014the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Neither commission has any established method of allowing the public to address it at its regularly scheduled business meetings. At Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters in Maryland the public is allowed to speak at designated meetings, but commission confabs are exclusive. In a recent nuclear agency staff meeting on increasing safety for American power plants based on \u201clessons learned\u201d from the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, the public had a chance to speak, both on the phone and in person. Three anti-nuclear activists on non-profits\u2019 payroll spoke\u2014the entire representation from that side. One pro-nuclear industry spokesperson took the mic. When the audience was canvassed for more input, a total of 12 nuclear lobbyists were the only ones left. Online involvement is encouraged, yet it\u2019s a bit of an empty welcome mat. The friendly posture is certainly better than it was a decade ago, but that\u2019s all relative to its impossibly obtuse pre-existing condition. For instance, this is from a September NRC incident report on Diablo Canyon: \u201cThe test report provided inadequate information to conclude that the most limiting alignment for control room pressurization would result in zero cubic feet per minute (CFM) inleakage into the CRE, contrary to the Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR) accident analysis for the most limiting design basis accident. Three of the four ventilation alignments tested had reported values of inleakage greater than zero CFM.\u201d I read NRC like I read Italiano. Foreign, but I get the gist. In NRC-speak, it basically means that if there was an accident at Diablo, the folks in the control room could have to breathe radioactive air. Il morto for power plant operators who are supposed to safely shut down the plant before it melts. Over at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in D.C. proper, there is a web-based method for the public to address the commission. Still, the \u201cpublic\u201d basically has to hire a lawyer steeped in the arcane language used by that commission. A FERC language barrier for instance from this month is a posted public input request: \u201cThe Commission proposes to approve Version 4, the Violation Risk Factors (VRFs), the Violation Severity Levels (VSLs) with modifications, the implementation plan, and effective date proposed by NERC. The Commission also proposes to approve the retirement of the currently effective Version 3 CIP Reliability Standards, CIP-002-3 to CIP-009-3. The Commission seeks comments on these proposals\u201d FERC\u2019s Ten Commandments start with \u201cjust and reasonable,\u201d yet I\u2019ve never heard someone who pays the transmission bills speak to the commission about a price s\/he thinks is so. The reality is: the \u201cpublic\u201d consists of \u201cK\u201d Street lobbyists. They tweak commissioners\u2019 ears in ex parte meetings, at watering holes, and at places more rarified than even their internal patois dignifies. Lobbyists are expensive. The Nuclear Energy Institute spent $1.75 million last year to sway the government to a positive nuclear power stance, according to OpenSecrects.org. No lobbying funding for active anti-nuclear groups are stated by that watchdog organization. Who speaks for Californians? Our Senators and some Representatives, like Henry Waxman and Darrell Issa, remain powerful in venues considered hostile to \u201cquirky\u201d California. Looking at the lobbying efforts, who really speaks for California are our investor-owned utilities\u2014although that influence is lessening in some ways. Last year, PG&E Corp. spent $45 million in lobbying, according to several sources. Most of that was spent in-state on failed Prop.16 to deter munis from municipalizing utilities and creating community choice aggregation agencies. Yet, according to reports, about $5 million was spent in Washington. This year, PG&E\u2019s lobbying office in Washington was decimated, leaving one person last month holding down the office, as one source described \u201ccowering under her desk.\u201d It\u2019s generally interpreted that the utility\u2019s board was dissatisfied with futile lobbying expenses. Last week, a new chief executive officer officially took over PG&E\u2019s Corp.\u2019s helm. The outcome for lobbying remains unknown. Edison International spent $2.5 million on lobbying in 2010, according to OpenSecrets.org. Its Washington office has stayed relatively stable over the years, with about a half-dozen lobbyists. Sempra\u2019s office has been smaller than the other two, but growing. It reached a total of three this summer. Last year\u2019s lobbying expense was also relatively small compared to other utilities at $1 million, according to OpenSecrets.org. In contrast, the Sierra Club, with a multitude of environmental issues, spent $425,000 last year on lobbying. The question is: how can federal agencies possibly open up to public input? In comparison, the California Public Utilities Commission does an admirable job. Although participants are required to show up at the San Francisco headquarters and are limited to a minute or two of speaking time, commissioners still bear public input. There are a lot of insular communities in this nation. Beverly Hills, CA, is one, with plastic \u201cwork done\u201d on beautiful bodies. There\u2019s Beverly, MA, where residents\u2019 leather body covering is de rigueur in rough weather. Washington, D.C., still is one of the most insular. Its parameters of insularity change every four to eight years. This year, it\u2019s the Tea Party parameters. Next election season the reaction could lead to liberal California-types setting the scene. By definition, D.C. is hostile to outsiders because you need to be an insider of whatever stripe to get anything done. That\u2019s why \u201cK\u201d St. does such a brisk business. Unlike the public, they know who knows what, how to blackmail sensitive subjects, and which palms are open. Can it change? Probably not. Yet, there\u2019s one simple thing energy agencies can do. A blanket public opening for public speakers\u2014both in person (3,000 miles from California), by phone, and by computer video\u2014is an excellent beginning at agency business meetings. It allows regulators to get a whiff of life outside the Beltway.