Fossil Fuel Companies Used Closed Door Meetings to Try to Shut Down Clean Power Plan

Sep 19, 2016

Fossil-fuel companies Murray Energy and Southern Company paid for private meetings with Republican state attorneys general to discuss opposition to the EPA's Clean Power Plan less than two weeks before the same officials asked a federal judge to block the measure.

That's according to documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Nick Surgey with the center says the meetings took place at a Republican Attorneys General Association - or RAGA - summit, where companies can pay higher conference fees in exchange for closed-door meetings.
 
"Though that might not be quid pro quo, it's certainly concerning for our highest law enforcement officers to be essentially party to selling access, in return for money that's going to help keep them in office."

Surgey argues the documents - some labeled confidential - reveal a coordinated effort between GOP attorneys general and industry to undermine the Obama administration's signature climate initiative to reduce pollution from existing coal-fired power plants.
 
"Unless you got hold of these public-records requests, you would never have any clue as to what was happening at these meetings, where elected officials are meeting with corporate representatives - and it seems like that's crucial information that we should know about."

Surgey says most of the money raised by RAGA, much like its Democratic-Party counterpart DAGA, is used to buy advertising to support attorney general election campaigns.

Murray Energy, which issued one-point-three billion dollars in bonds last year to help finance its acquisition of a stake in Foresight Energy in St. Louis, told Bloomberg the meeting was a useful strategy session on blocking the EPA's plan, but maintained the AG's acted on their own. Southern Company did not respond to requests for comment.