‘Captured’: EPA Let Green Lobbyists Write Its Global Warming Regs

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Obama administration basically let lobbyists tied to left-wing environmental groups write the government’s massive global warming regulatory scheme, according to documents obtained by a free market legal group.

Attorneys with the Energy & Environment Legal Foundation (E&E) released a report Monday calling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “captured” agency “allowing green pressure groups improper influence.”

“Specifically, Michael Goo, then EPA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Policy, was tasked with writing the initial memo on EPA’s options to impose these power plant regulations,” E&E Legal reported.

“Mr. Goo shared his draft options secretly, using his private email rather than his official EPA email, with lobbyists and high-level staffers at the Sierra Club, Clean Air Task Force and the Natural Resource Defense Council; also using Goo’s non-official account, these lobbyists in turn told Goo how to draft or alter the policy that was ultimately implemented in the rules,” the report reads.

E&E Legal published the report in conjunction with filing briefs with federal courts hearing the legal challenge against the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) — a regulatory scheme requiring states cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The group obtained records through Freedom of Information Act requests, including those made by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Chris Horner, an attorney with E&E Legal, has been investing transparency issues at the EPA for years, and has uncovered numerous emails agency officials sent to environmentalists from private email accounts discussing official business.

Goo is one of the most notorious EPA staffers when it comes to private email use. Goo emailed EPA documents to environmental activists and got their input on agency policies — all on private emails. Goo also routinely met with environmentalists at a Starbucks across the street from EPA headquarters.

Goo even hosted a huge party every year, which he called “Goofest,” and invited activists he secretly emailed with to get drunk and party down. When Congress discovered the existence of Goofest, they questioned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on it — it led to a rather hilarious exchange.

But Goofest is only the tip of the iceberg. Horner, reporters and congressional investigators have uncovered numerous instances where environmentalists took advantage of their cozy ties with EPA officials. Such cozy ties even taint the EPA’s CPP.

“These emails demonstrate that, if EPA is to regulate as it seeks to do by these rules, the Agency must start over, proceeding lawfully, affording all interested parties the same access and full ability to comment on the information presented to EPA at all relevant times, and involving only officials unburdened by the unalterably closed minds of those who produced these rules,” E&E Legal reported.

This is the second such report from E&E Legal claiming EPA’s cozy ties with environmentalists should invalidate the CPP.

In 2015, E&E Legal published a report with “records showing illegal activities by EPA staff, colluding with certain environmental group lobbyists to draft EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules behind the scenes and outside of public view.”

That report came on the heels of a New York Times article detailing how two high-powered lobbyists with the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote the “blueprint” of what would become the CPP.

“Indisputable, however, is that the Natural Resources Defense Council was far ahead of the E.P.A. in drafting the architecture of the proposed regulation,” The Times reported last year.

The CPP is now being held up in the courts and can’t be implemented until federal judges rule on whether or not the regulatory scheme violates the Clean Air Act. Oral arguments are set for June.

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