Senate Exposes EPA, Green Group Secret Collusion on Carbon Rules

Published August 24, 2015

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a new EPW Majority Staff Oversight Report on August 4, Obama’s Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions.

In a statement Inhofe says, “The report exposes how the Obama administration’s collusion with outside environmental groups … has cornered out public input in the rule making process.”

The report found, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to regulate carbon emissions from power plants were driven by Obama Administration political appointees colluding with environmental activist groups to implement the President’s climate commitments following the defeat of climate legislation in Congress. 

Policy Through ‘Sue and Settle’

The EPA’s efforts were driven by a series of agreements reached settling lawsuits with environmental groups. These “sue-and-settle” agreements were intended to produce regulations limiting carbon dioxide limitation’s during Obama’s first term.

Documents obtained by EPW staff indicate EPA misjudged the complexity of the task at hand. As a result, although EPA initially agreed to finalize rules carbon dioxide emission restrictions for new, modified, and existing sources by May 2012, less than a year and a half after the settlement was reached during President Obama’s first and, at the time, potentially only term as EPA realized these rules could cause political problems for the President during an election year, it persuaded the environmental groups who were party to the settlements to not press for the regulations until after the President’s reelection.

Environmentalists allowed the deadlines to pass by with little public objection. After Obama was reelected, the report shows, the White House, EPA, and environmental activists worked together to coordinate the message given to the public concerning the necessity of, justification for, and the purported public health and national security benefits to result from rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions for new and existing power plants.

Secret Planning Meetings

To keep their coordination off the books and thus secret, in contravention of federal policy, EPA and environmental activists used personal rather than work emails to exchange ideas and develop strategies, and held meetings away from EPA headquarters, including a local park and coffee shops in order for environmental lobbyist to avoid signing in at EPA headquarters.

“This oversight report discloses for the first time unredacted communications between EPA and NRDC, putting the final nail in the coffin of President Obama’s broken campaign promise for a new era of government transparency,” says Inhofe in his statement. “Between the use of personal e-mail accounts and private meetings in a city park and coffee shops, there were clear attempts to avoid public involvement in crafting the carbon mandates.” 

Inhofe notes, “While EPA failed to even visit West Virginia for a field hearing on the proposed climate rules — less than 100 miles from EPA headquarters — the agency took calls from NRDC on Saturdays and in the evenings, giving them what appears to be unfettered access to EPA officials developing the rules the president announced this week. Just as disturbing, the e-mails show that EPA played politics with deadlines and misled the public on the timing of the rules to avoid election consequences.” 

“This report is not the end,” Inhofe stated. “The committee will continue to investigate and expose the legally-questionable actions taking place within the Obama administration regarding EPA’s costly rulemaking.” 

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Internet Info

Majority Staff Report United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works 114th Congress, “OBAMA’S CARBON MANDATE: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions,” August 4, 2015;