Introducing the Corporate Front Groups That Helped Win a Supreme Court Stay of Obama’s Clean Power Plan
There’s King Coal and then there’s King Koch. As with many stories involving big corporate interests fighting against environmental regulations, the Kochtopus has spread its tentacles and front groups into the fight against the CPP.
Energy and Environment Legal Institute
Enter the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), an anti-clean energy front group formerly known as the American Tradition Institute, which filed a Petition for Review in October 2015 with the D.C. Appeals Court. EELI maintains close ties to Koch-funded George Mason University School of Law.
According to a January 2015 piece published by Vice News, “The Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Lair Foundation, and Doug Lair are all listed as donors” on ATI’s 2010 IRS 990 tax form. “The Atlas Economic Research Foundation has been funded in the past partly by Exxon, while Doug Lair is a Montana businessman who sold his petroleum company to one of the Koch brothers back in 1989.”
Lee Fang of The Intercept further revealed, by examining bankruptcy filings of coal mining giant Alpha Natural Resources, that EELI Senior Legal Fellow Chris Horner received funding from the company.
Members of the Koch-tied State Policy Network (SPN), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-created apparatus called “stink tanks” by the Center for Media and Democracy, also entered into the CPP legal fray by filing a Petition for Review with the D.C. Appeals Court in December.
These SPN members include the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, the Independence Institute, the Rio Grande Foundation, and the Sutherland Institute.
For now the CPP’s fate sits largely in the hands of the D.C. Appeals Court. A date to watch for is June 2, but it appears the Court will not publish a decision until at least this autumn.
“As a practical matter, this stay means that the EPA may not continue to take any actions to implement or enforce the CPP pending the resolution of the state and industry challenge to the rule. That challenge is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which will hear oral arguments on June 2,” The Washington Post explained. “In all likelihood, this means a D.C. Circuit decision will not be issued until early fall, at the earliest.”
In the meantime, keep your eyes on amicus briefs filings, especially those penned by groups with ambiguous-sounding names. Generally, the real story can be found, as investigative journalist Izzy Stone once said, “in the bowels of government” and amicus briefs filed to a federal court certainly fit that bill.