Energy Secretary Perry Will Headline Event at D.C. Steakhouse “Presented” by Coal Lobby

President Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry will headline an event at a Washington, D.C. steakhouse hosted by RealClearPolitics. The post describes the event as “presented by” two coal lobbying groups, the National Mining Association (NMA) and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

According to the most recent financial disclosures filed with the IRS, obtained by the Climate Investigations Center, ACCCE and NMA’s boards are comprised of numerous coal company executives including Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray.

Murray’s close ties to Perry and President Trump have been widely reported. Murray contributed $300,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee and hosted a fundraising event for Perry in 2011. Murray delivered a policy wishlist to Perry and top DOE officials during a meeting in 2017. Current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was also at the meeting, who was a registered lobbyist for Murray Energy in 2017.

Since then, the DOE has tried to deliver multiple bailouts to the coal industry, including a grid reliability plan that would subsidize coal and nuclear plants (FERC voted against the plan) and its “Coal FIRST initiative”, which would provide up to $38 million in funding for research into improving existing coal-fired power plants.

In February, President Trump urged Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to weigh “all factors” before voting to close a coal-fired power plant–which had direct ties to Murray–via tweet . Perry retweeted the President and said, “Coal helps keep American electricity affordable and reliable.” (The TVA board voted to close the coal plant.)

The event, called “Powering the Grid: Access, Affordability & Fuel Diversity,” will also feature West Virginia Republican Congressman David McKinley, who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the mining industry.

Photograph by Gage Skidmore. Used under creative commons license.

David Bernhardt Photographs

David Bernhardt was picked to replace Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Department of the Interior in January of 2019. Prior to joining the Department, Bernhardt was a lobbyist for oil, gas, and mining interests. Ethics rules prohibit him from meeting with a long list of former clients. Here are a series of photos of David Bernhardt in action:

David Bernhardt spoke at the National Mining Association’s meeting at the Trump Hotel in October of 2017. An agenda from the meeting lists him as a speaker. Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck, Bernhardt’s lobbying firm, and Hudbay Minerals, a mining company and former client of Bernhardt’s, are members of the Association.

David Bernhardt leaving a meeting of the National Mining Association at the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC in October of 2017.

The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) is a lobbying and trade group representing the offshore oil and gas industry. NOIA is a former client of David Bernhardt, and is listed on his ethics recusals documents. These photographs come from a report issued by NOIA in November of 2013.

David Bernhardt at a 2013 meeting of the National Ocean Industries Association.

 

David Bernhardt at a meeting of the National Ocean Industries Association in 2013.

FOIA Documents Show EPA Air and Radiation Head Continued Meeting With Industry He Once Represented

Bill Wehrum, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation and a former industry lawyer, continued to meet with fossil fuel interests regulated by the agency, according to five months of scheduling records from 2018 obtained by Documented.

While the EPA makes some calendars for senior staff publicly available, including Wehrum’s schedule, the records obtained provide more detailed information on the meetings, highlighting attendees and meeting topics.

The calendar entries obtained by Documented can be viewed here. Below are some highlights from the July through November records:

    • Wehrum gave a speech to the National Mining Association, a trade association that represents coal companies including Murray Energy, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal Corporation, Cloud Peak Energy, Inc., as well as his old law firm Hunton and Williams. He also met with Usibelli Coal Mine and two front groups for the coal industry, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and Lignite Energy Council. Last August, Wehrum’s department attempted to ease coal pollution regulations with a proposed replacement of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. His schedule also details a meeting with utility company Xcel energy regarding the rule replacement.
    • Wehrum met with Fitzgerald Trucks, the largest glider truck manufacturer in the United States, regarding glider kits. The company was handed a major win on Pruitt’s last day as EPA administrator when EPA granted a loophole to allow more pollution from glider trucks. The records also include a meeting with the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA).

    • In September 2018, Wehrum met with energy lobbyist Mike McKenna of MWR Strategies and Bob Meyers of Crowell & Moring LLP about “permitting a power plant up in New York State.” The entry does not detail the client who sought the permit, however, McKenna filed a federal lobbying disclosure form outlining “energy issues” with the EPA for Competitive Power Ventures, which announced commercial operation at its Wawayanda, NY power plant in October 2018.

 



Oil Lobby Targeted Republican Governors in Support for Roll Back in Fuel Standards, Emails Show

Last month, the New York Times published an in-depth investigation detailing the oil industry’s efforts to build support for the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that would roll back Obama-era corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFE) aimed at curbing climate change.

New emails obtained by Documented reveal similar efforts by the oil refinery lobbying group, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), which represents numerous fossil fuel corporations including ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, Chevron and Marathon Petroleum.

The emails are cited in a new report from DeSmogBlog,  outlining AFPM and other fossil fuel funded groups’ campaign to roll  back Obama-era fuel standards.

Below are some highlights from the emails obtained by Documented:

  • An Internal memo prepared for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead in advance of his meeting with AFPM client Holland & Hartstated AFPM had “been shopping around op-ed” supporting the changes to the CAFE rule. The language in op-ed, according to DeSmogBlog, similarly reflects language found in a letter from another fossil fuel funded group, the American Energy Alliance.
  • AFPM sent identical email messages to at least two Republican Governor offices, urging them to sign a letter that supported the proposed rule. AFPM noted in the emails that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) had circulated the letter as well. Documented has previously reported that RGA is funded by the fossil fuel industry. According to IRS fillings reviewed by Documented, RGA accepted more than $200,000 from AFPM during the 2018 election cycle.

  • Governors from Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma signed the letter, which was published in the Federal Register as comments under the rule.

  • Wes Hambrick from the Texas Governor’s office circulated AFPM talking points about the proposed rule. The email was sent to Michael Lucci from the Illinois Governor’s office.  The talking points touted the benefits of the rule and criticized the Obama-era fuel efficiency targets.

 



 

LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL LANDRY TO HOLD FUNDRAISER AT TRUMP D.C. HOTEL WITH VP PENCE AS SPECIAL GUEST

Jeff Landry, the Louisiana Attorney General, and a prominent supporter of President Trump’s southern border wall strategy, is to hold a D.C. fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel on January 30th, according to a copy of the event invitation obtained by Documented.

According to the invitation, Vice President Mike Pence is to be a special guest at the event.

During an interview with Breitbart this week, Landry defended Trump’s position on the border wall, and attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for what he said was her “hypocrisy” around the wall. “She has a front door on her house. She has a fence around her house. She has security measures around her house. She has a door to her congressional office”, said Landry.

This is at least the second year that Landry has held a fundraiser at Trump’s D.C. hotel. The 2018 event was also revealed by Documented.

Photo of Mike Pence by Gage Skidmore used under Creative Commons License.