Republican attorneys general from more than 20 states issued responses last Friday to the broad coalition of health organizations and businesses that filed briefs in support of the Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state emissions reduction targets from electricity generation but leaves it mainly up to the states to decide how to achieve those reductions, has picked up a lot of support. Earlier this month, more than 200 current and former members of Congress from both parties filed a brief in support of the plan.
But 27 states, led by coal-heavy West Virginia, are suing the federal government to stop the plan, and the Supreme Court issued a stay last February that bars its implementation until all legal challenges have been resolved. That means the ball is now in a D.C. Circuit Court that is not expected to make a decision on the case possibly until as late as this fall.
Right at the top of the two separate filings before the court (download them here and here), Republican attorneys general from states like Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas are listed alongside the general counsel for fossil fuel companies like Murray Energy and Entergy Corporation, lobbying groups like the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, climate-denying think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a number of utility corporations.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the anti-Clean Power Plan camp is quite cozy with the dirty energy sector. Over the last two election cycles, the Republican attorneys general who have come out publicly against the Clean Power Plan have taken over $2.4 million from dirty energy interests, including electric utilities, coal mining, and oil and gas companies.
“[Friday’s] response from the Republican Attorneys General was nothing more than the same debunked arguments and falsehoods the dirty energy industry has peddled for decades,” Americans United for Change spokesman Blake Williams said in a statement.
“The only thing missing from their response was a postmark from the pocket of big polluters. The fact is, every time sensible efforts are proposed to protect our environment, polluters routinely cry wolf trying to protect their profits.”
The American people, on the other hand, seem to understand that we don’t have time to waste until we start drawing down emissions and investing in renewable energy. A poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future last year found that an “overwhelming majority of the American public, including half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming.”
But even if the American public isn’t on their side, Republican AG’s still seem to believe they can win in the courts, despite the Clean Power Plan’s strong basis in existing law — namely, section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA the authority to regulate power plant emissions.
Then again, it’s no secret that Republican officials at the state level have a cozy relationship with dirty energy interests. In December 2014, the New York Times blew the lid off of the “unprecedented, secretive alliance” that many Republican attorneys general have formed with dirty energy interests:
“Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.”
In some cases, according to the NYT, Republican attorneys general were simply copying letters written by dirty energy companies or their lobbyists onto their own letterhead and sending them along to federal officials.
“These Republican Attorneys General are supposed to be public servants representing the interests of the American people who overwhelmingly believe we should take action to address climate change,” Americans United for Change’s Williams said. “But instead they’re doing the bidding of polluters who put profits over the public health.”
Image Credit: Petr Kratochvil