For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2015

Craig Richardson
[email protected]

Citing Emails Obtained in FOIA Litigation, E&E Legal Joins Other Petitioners Seeking a Stay of EPA’s Rules Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act

Washington, D.C.  – Yesterday, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), joined numerous other petitioners – including 25 states, the Chamber of Commerce, the United Mine Workers of America, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, and energy producers – in support of a stay of EPA’s rules regulating greenhouse gases (GHG).  The petition, which was filed in the District of Columbia Federal District Court, argues EPA’s “transformative” greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations” warrant a stay to mitigate the harms they are already causing.  Litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has revealed more damning and highly relevant facts regarding the rules’ harms and also their unlawful promulgation.

“These new facts are strikingly similar to, yet more egregious and extend to higher levels within the Agency than, the corruption in EPA’s veto of the Pebble Mine permit detailed in recent months by the Wall Street Journal,” said Chris Horner, lead attorney and E&E Legal’s Senior Legal Fellow.  “Collusion with green groups is the hallmark of this EPA; here it affirms these rules were plainly created clearly outside of the law, and warrant an immediate stay.”

EPA’s GHG rules, of course, are in fulfillment of then-candidate Obama’s vow to “bankrupt” anyone who builds a coal-fired power plant.  These rules have already caused numerous plants to be shelved, which plans could be revived if EPA failed to craft a sufficiently strict rule.  This is according to an email and XLS spreadsheet attachment sent by Sierra Club lobbyist John Coequyt to a senior EPA official and former Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lawyer, Michael Goo.

Reminiscent of the Pebble scandal, Goo — cited by the New York Times as among the “NRDC mafia” which made its way into government — was tasked with drafting EPA’s Options Memo.

Also reminiscent of the Pebble scandal, the green group lobbyists and EPA official in question used the official’s non-official email account for their most damning correspondence in developing EPA’s rules.

In the internal Sierra spreadsheet’s “comments: for review and deletion” section, the group privately acknowledges that the prospect of these rules had already led to the shelving of 16 advanced coal-fired plants in 13 states, although “there is not a small chance that they

[sic] company could decide to revive the proposal” if the rules were not sufficiently tight.  In turn, and again recalling the Pebble Mine scandal, Goo turned to his private Yahoo email account to send draft “new source” Options language to Coequyt.  All during the time that this was supposedly a purely internal EPA process.

As with former Secretary of State Clinton, Mr. Goo kept these emails hidden on his private account for nearly two and a half years, and they only came to light thanks to a FOIA suit.  Among the correspondence is an email from Coequyt stating, “Attached is a memo that I didn’t want to send in public” (hence Yahoo).  That memo created a roadmap regarding existing sources, explaining the mechanics and concluding, “EPA can therefore establish a performance standard for existing plants that is not achievable.”  EPA has done just that.

Also at key moments in the rules’ timeline, NRDC officials David Hawkins and Dan Lashof (the latter now working for Tom Steyer’s climate advocacy empire) used Goo’s Yahoo account to provide internal NRDC analyses regarding what standards EPA might impose.

These documents show the harms that EPA’s rules are already causing despite public claims to the contrary; indeed, some of the emails discuss and show implementation of the joint strategy advancing these public denials.  Of course, they also show the rules were developed unlawfully, further increasing the chance for success in court, a key factor in determining whether to grant a stay.  EPA’s rules should be stopped in their tracks until the D.C. Circuit rules on such merits.


The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.