Although the nation’s attention is focused on the Presidential election, there is another office that wields tremendous power — and which voters get to choose. It is their state’s Attorney General, otherwise known as the People’s Lawyer.
In response to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a contingent of twenty-seven attorneys general has been pushing back, vigorously, via a lawsuit to halt the plan. The case is currently tied up in court.
Those in opposition to the plan, which has frequently been referenced as Obama’s “signature climate policy,” maintain that it will be detrimental to their state’s economy.
Conversely, the White House and the EPA have emphasized that the Clean Power Plan will be:
- A major benefit for public health, reducing both medical costs and diseases caused by air pollution. 3600 premature deaths will be averted.
- A reduction in energy bills by 2030 that will translate into $200 annually per American family.
- A reduction in carbon dioxide pollution by 32 percent in 2030, down from the 2005 level.
- A job creator in the “environmental technology field,” while pushing investment in the clean energy sector.
Polls show that the electorate in states where Attorney Generals are suing, favor America’s Clean Power Plan (Tweet this) by 61 percent. (There are three states where public opinion is against the plan. They are North Dakota, where fracking has become prevalent; the coaling-producing states of West Virginia and Wyoming.) Support for strong environmental regulations are especially high in African-American and Latino communities, who are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals, air pollution, unsafe drinking water, and high rates of asthma.
Is there is a subtext to this situation?
As far back as December 2014, the New York Times reported on suspect alliances between campaign funders and Attorneys General (“Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General”). This year, Americans United for Change picked up the theme with their report, “Polluter Impunity.” The trajectory becomes quite clear when you “follow the money.”
Individual Attorneys General have been the recipients of a combined $2.8 million. There is an evident link between their actions and campaign donations from fossil fuel entities. Once again, the fingerprints of the Koch Brothers are clearly visible, particularly via their lobbyists.
The surreptitious collusion between energy companies and specific state Attorneys General becomes crystal clear when looking at contribution supporters of Attorneys General who are part of the lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan. There are three men who received funds in the six figures:
- Mike DeWine: Ohio – Received $335, 963
- Luther Strange: Alabama – Received $314,788
- Scott Pruitt: Oklahoma – Received $305,966
- My particular favorite was Ken Paxton, the Attorney General from Texas. He has pocketed a cool $1,067,817.
Requests through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) have turned up documentation of “closed door” communications between the offices of numerous Attorneys General and lobbyists with connections to energy companies and the Kochs.
Perhaps the most egregious action — or at least the most outrageous — was uncovered within documents shared by the New York Times. It is a letter from William F. Whitsitt, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs at the Oklahoma Devon Energy Corporation to Solicitor General Patrick R. Wyrick, who is part of the legal team representing Oklahoma state.
Dated September 2, 2011, it reads:
Just a note to pass along the electronic version of the draft letter to Lisa Jackson at the EPA. You’ll note that this version has some suggested cc recipients.
We have no pride of authorship, so whatever you decide to do on this is fine. We’re just glad to provide some ideas.
If you have any questions, technical or otherwise, feel free to contact AJ Ferate or me. We’ll be sure you have the right people to talk with.
Have a nice holiday weekend.
Really? A.J. Ferate is the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA).
If you are from Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Utah or West Virginia, your Attorney General is one of the ten office holders who are up for election.
Tell him to protect our kids and drop the lawsuit to shut America’s Clean Power Plan down.