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Coal Firms Met with GOP AGs to Stop Clean Power Plan

Coal companies met with GOP attorneys general to stop the EPA's Clean Power Plan. (Pixabay)
Coal companies met with GOP attorneys general to stop the EPA's Clean Power Plan. (Pixabay)
September 19, 2016

DENVER - Fossil-fuel companies Murray Energy and Southern Co. paid for private meetings with Republican state attorneys general to discuss opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan less than two weeks before the same officials asked a federal judge to block the measure, according to documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Nick Surgey, director of research for the center, said the meetings took place at a Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) summit, where companies can pay higher conference fees in exchange for closed-door meetings.

"Though that might not be quid pro quo," Surgey said, "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 said 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 told Bloomberg the meeting was a useful strategy session on blocking the EPA's plan, but maintained that the AGs acted on their own. Southern Co. did not respond to requests for comments.

Surgey argued that the documents, some of which were 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."

Energy companies and 26 state attorneys general have joined a suit against the EPA to block implementation and ultimately reject the Clean Power Plan. A federal appeals court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case later this month.

The documents are online at exposedbycmd.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO