Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigatory report, Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation and an appendix of source documents. The report, which is based on e-mails and other documents obtained under numerous Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and litigation, details illegal activities by EPA staff, colluding with certain environmental lobbyists to draft EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules behind the scenes, outside of public view, and to the exclusion of other parties. More importantly, it clearly shows that EPA must start anew if it wishes to regulate GHGs. (A two-minute companion video is available for use.)
With EPA’s GHG rules going final any day, it is critical to inform the public of the emails detailed in this report for what they show about how EPA has developed these costly public policies with select, ideologically aligned outside interests, and its continuing efforts to obscure and even hide the content of discussions with those same lobbyists.
“E&E Legal has obtained proof that EPA’s GHG rules are the product of unlawful collusion and are themselves therefore unlawful,” said E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow Chris Horner and author the report. “Congress or the courts — or EPA, in a moment of rationality — should stop these rules from taking effect before the (intended) anticipatory harms of a sham rulemaking are imposed upon millions of Americans, without years of delay and devastation before the ultimately illegal agency rulemaking is overturned.”
EPA is a regulatory agency tasked with protecting the environment. EPA can regulate greenhouse gases thanks to the Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v. EPA decision. It is not compelled to do so, and it remains prohibited under the law from regulating with an “unalterably closed mind”, for the purposes of completing a “naked transfer of wealth”, or to do the bidding of ideologically aligned pressure groups.
“This pattern of conducting official business in secret and outside of the legal parameters is unfortunately a hallmark of this Administration,” said E&E Legal Executive Director Craig Richardson. “In the case of the EPA, green groups led by the Sierra Club and NRDC set up shop at the EPA, even before Obama took office, with a plan to eliminate the U.S.’s most abundant source of electricity, coal-fired power plants. Part of this was to shift the public’s wealth to renewable energy, where the large benefactors of these same green groups are now poised to make significant money.”
The report comes as President Obama prepares to announce these rules next week, and follows an E&E Legal interim report released last September which also showed that EPA was working with outside green lobby groups on a common regulatory agenda, often with deliberate secretiveness and unlawfully. Since the 2014 report, E&E Legal has pried many hundreds of relevant emails out of EPA in several requests and lawsuits. The record is not complete, of course, but reflects only those records responsive to E&E Legal’s search terms and that EPA, or its now-departed activist-staffers, decided to produce. EPA continues to improperly withhold certain obviously important information with no conceivable legal justification.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.