September 26, 2016

Senators Issue Report Revealing Special Interests Behind Challenge to Obama Climate Plan

“The Brief No One Filed” sheds light on the fossil fuel money behind states’ effort to block the Clean Power Plan

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Edward Markey (D-MA) released a report today entitled, “The Brief No One Filed,” highlighting the real forces behind the legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The report – which is structured as an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief but was not filed with the court – demonstrates that the state officials, trade associations, front groups, and industry-funded scientists participating in the challenge actually represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry.  The Senators explain that the report is designed to “share their knowledge and understanding of the connection between the fossil fuel industry’s political spending (both open and in secret) and political blockade of any measures to address climate change.”

“The American public is aware of and alarmed by the massive influx of special interest money and considers this a top problem with elected officials in Washington,” the Senators write.  “More than 80% of Americans believe the government cannot be trusted to do what is right most of the time.  As active legislators and national leaders, [we] have a strong interest in restoring the faith of the people in our government and political system.  This starts with limiting the ability of massive dirty energy companies, either directly or through their armada of front groups, to stop anything that doesn’t serve the fossil fuel industry’s financial interests.” 

The report contains substantial detail on the complex network connecting the opponents of the Clean Power Plan and the fossil fuel companies that support their effort.  The Senators note, “The briefs opposing the Clean Power Plan that some Members of Congress, state politicians, and outside organizations filed in this case may be seen as another expression of this climate denial apparatus.  In aggregate, the politician authors of these briefs have received over $107 million from the fossil fuel industry, and while they are ostensibly elected to represent the interests of their constituents, we regularly see them taking positions that are opposed to conclusions drawn about the effects of climate change by institutions and academics in their own states.” 

While issuing the report to inform the public on issues surrounding the case, the Senators underscore that they “fully and enthusiastically support the brief submitted on March 31, 2016, with current and former members of Congress in support of the respondents” in the case, including the Environmental Protection Agency.  All signatories to the report released today are also signed on to that brief.

The challenge to the Clean Power Plan, West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is slated for oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia tomorrow. 

The full report can be accessed here.


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