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Mr. Stern has blasted Wal-Mart in the past for paying low wages and not providing employee health care plans, but that criticism has lightened in the past year. Yesterday, the union leader sounded positively flattering.

“You have to give Wal-Mart some credit for the work it’s done on the environment,” Mr. Stern said after the conference.

The biggest surprise may have been that building renewable energy projects and saving the environment, a fringe concept just a few years ago by Sierra Club President Carl Pope’s admission, would be the issue to bring together such disparate factions.

“Prior to 2006, those of us who spoke about this were relegated to the ‘free speech zones’ at the national conventions,” Mr. Pope said. Free speech zones typically have been set up at large political events to box in protesters and activists.

The hr file

James L. Connaughton, the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality for all eight years of the Bush administration, heads to Constellation Energy to direct the company’s environmental and energy policy work as well as its lobbying priorities.

The energy lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani also scavenged the ranks of former administrations, both public and private, to add to its team of energy experts.

Mike Olsen, a former official at the Department of the Interior; David Perlman, former lead counsel at Lehman Brothers; and Salo Zelermyer, a former lawyer at the Energy Department, all joined up with the energy lobbying firm this month.

The three join an energy team that includes former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jeff Holmstead and former Rep. Jim Chapman, Texas Democrat.

Also, Kevin Book, an energy analyst whose sharp and occasionally irreverent congressional testimony has made him a favorite among congressional staffers and industry lobbyists, departed Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group on Monday. No word yet where he’s headed.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at