January 10, 2018

Whitehouse Presses Agencies for Versions of Murray ‘Action Plan’

Washington, DC – In letters sent today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) demanded of several federal agencies copies of a to-do list of policies and actions to benefit select coal interests that was circulated by coal magnate Robert Murray among members of the Trump administration.  Murray, Chairman of Murray Energy and a major Republican campaign donor, has boasted that the administration has already obediently executed a full page-worth of the nearly four-page “action plan.”  Two different versions of the plan have been revealed in the press, suggesting Murray has tailored his action items for individual agencies.  Whitehouse based his requests for versions of the plan and related communications on the initial plan submitted to Vice President Mike Pence, which came to light for the first time last night.

The Murray action plan is available here.

Whitehouse directed his requests to the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, all of which are named in the Murray plan.

Murray first identified the existence of the plan in the Frontline documentary “War on the EPA,” which aired in October.  Whitehouse and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) then requested it from the EPA and the White House.  In November, Whitehouse called directly on Murray to turn over the document.

The plan was the topic of questioning at the November 8 Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the EPA.  Wheeler, who served as a lobbyist for Murray Energy until last year, testified that he had seen the document but did not have a copy of it. 

Text of Whitehouse’s letters is below. 

January 10, 2018

The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta

Secretary of Labor

S-2521

200 Constitution Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Secretary Acosta:

I write to request from you information related to Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s “action plan,” which Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray claimed to have given to President Trump early in his administration.  One version of that plan is attached, in which he references several issues in the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor (DOL).  While that version is addressed to Vice President Pence, I have seen another version tailored to a specific agency.[1]  The differences suggest Mr. Murray may have distributed different versions of the plan to different agencies. 

In light of this information, I request the following documents by February 1, 2018:

  • A copy of any “action plan” that Robert Murray/Murray Energy has given to DOL or any of its offices or agencies, including but not limited to the Mine Safety and Health Administration or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, since January 20, 2017.  
  • Copies of all other communications between Robert Murray, Murray Energy, or any individuals working on their behalf, and DOL since January 20, 2017, related to the action plan or any item included in the plan. 

If you have any questions about this request, please contact [my office]. 

January 10, 2018

The Honorable Scott Pruitt

Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

On October 27, 2017, I requested from you a copy of Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s “action plan,” which Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray claimed to have given to President Trump early in his administration.  On November 28, 2017, Troy Lyons, Associate Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, replied on your behalf that that searches of Outlook for instances of the action plan given to President Trump yielded no results.

On December 6, 2017, In These Times released photos of a meeting between Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Robert Murray.  These photos show Secretary Perry reviewing a version of Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s action plan and cover letter dated March 23, 2017, addressed to Secretary Perry. 

I recently obtained the attached copy of the action plan that Robert Murray/Murray Energy sent to the White House on March 1, 2017, which appears to differ from the plan given to Secretary Perry.  The discrepancies in these action plans suggest that Robert Murray/Murray Energy may have distributed versions of the plan tailored to specific agencies. 

So there is no confusion, I write to confirm that your original search covered any version of the plan, regardless of addressee.  If not, please provide the following by February 1, 2018. 

  • A copy of any “action plan” that Robert Murray/Murray Energy provided to EPA.
  • Copies of all other communications between Robert Murray, Murray Energy, or any individuals working on their behalf, and EPA since January 20, 2017, related to any such action plan or any item included in the plan.

If you have any questions about this request, please contact [my office]. 

January 10, 2018

The Honorable Kevin McIntyre

Chairman

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street NE

Washington, D.C. 20426

Dear Chairman McIntyre: 

I write to request from you information related to Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s “action plan,” which Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray claimed to have given to President Trump early in his administration.  One version of that plan is attached, in which he references the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  While that version is addressed to Vice President Pence, I have seen another version tailored to a specific agency.[2]  The differences suggest Mr. Murray may have distributed different versions of the plan to different agencies.

In light of this information and the fact that the FERC is still considering the Department of Energy’s rule on baseload power, please provide the following by February 1, 2018:

  • A copy of the “action plan” that Robert Murray/Murray Energy provided to FERC Commissioners.
  • Copies of all other communications between Robert Murray, Murray Energy, or any individuals working on their behalf, and FERC since January 20, 2017, related to the action plan or any item included in the plan.

If you have any questions about this request, please contact [my office].

 

January 10, 2018

The Honorable Richard Howorth

Chairman

Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors

400 West Summit Hill Drive WT 7

Knoxville, TN 37902

Dear Chairman Howorth:

I write to request from you information related to Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s “action plan,” which Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray claimed to have given to President Trump early in his administration.  One version of that plan is attached, in which he references the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  While that version is addressed to Vice President Pence, I have seen another version tailored to a specific agency.[3]  The differences suggest Mr. Murray may have distributed different versions of the plan to different agencies. 

In light of this information, I request the following documents no later than February 1, 2018:

  • A copy of the “action plan” that Robert Murray/Murray Energy provided to any of the TVA Board of Directors.
  • Copies of all other communications between Robert Murray, Murray Energy, or any individuals working on their behalf, and TVA since January 20, 2017, related to the action plan or any item included in the plan.

If you have any questions about this request, please contact [my office]. 

###


[1] See, e.g., “Exclusive Photos Contradict Murray Energy CEO’s Claim He Had ‘Nothing To Do with’ Rick Perry’s Coal Bailout,” In These Times, Dec. 6, 2017 (reporting on photos of Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s action plan dated March 23, 2017, addressed to Secretary Rick Perry).

[2] See, e.g., “Exclusive Photos Contradict Murray Energy CEO’s Claim He Had ‘Nothing To Do with’ Rick Perry’s Coal Bailout,” In These Times, Dec. 6, 2017 (reporting on photos of Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s action plan dated March 23, 2017, addressed to Secretary Rick Perry).

[3] See, e.g., “Exclusive Photos Contradict Murray Energy CEO’s Claim He Had ‘Nothing To Do with’ Rick Perry’s Coal Bailout,” In These Times, Dec. 6, 2017 (reporting on photos of Robert Murray’s/Murray Energy’s action plan dated March 23, 2017, addressed to Secretary Rick Perry).

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