U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today released emails between top officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), highlighting a plan to control implementation of the carbon rule even after President Obama has left office. The documents show the NRDC explaining to EPA how they can finalize Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d) federal implementation plans (FIPs) before states submit their own plans (SIPs) in light of a 2012 D.C. Circuit opinion on EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).
"There was clearly a coordinated plan to undermine the States' input in developing and implementing the devastating carbon rule. This new evidence shows the NRDC suggesting to the EPA that they could manipulate deadlines and court precedents in order to force through a ‘one-size-fits-all' federal plan, and cut out the States," said Vitter. "We know from similar email discoveries that EPA took direction from NRDC in developing the rule, but now we also know EPA efforts at a full federal takeover are seriously being discussed with the one organization having the most influence at EPA."
According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the proposed carbon rule "is all about flexibility...That's what makes it ambitious, but also achievable." The emails released today instead seem to indicate that NRDC and EPA want to eliminate state flexibility. According to these emails, NRDC officials, EPA, and others were considered to be part of the "111(d) team," which was seemingly responsible for planning the implementation process of the 111(d) FIPs. In one email, Dave Hawkins, Director of Climate Programs at NRDC, writes to Joe Goffman, Associate Assistant Administrator and Senior Counsel for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation:
"As long as the compliance date for the FIP 111(d) emission limits is a few years after the SIP submission deadline, it appears that EPA can promulgate backstop FIP limits even in advance of the June 2016 SIP submission date, consistent with the CSAPR opinion's reasoning."
The Clean Air Act (CAA) was built on the principle of "cooperative federalism" in which the federal government and individual States would work together to control air pollution and improve air quality. In October 2013, EPW Republicans released a report on cooperative federalism, entitled, "Neglecting a Cornerstone Principle of the Clean Air Act: President Obama's EPA Leaves States Behind." The report chronicles the Administration's growing failure to adhere to the cooperative federalism approach in working with States as established in the Clean Air Act. In July 2014, EPW Republicans released a report entitled, "The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA."
As part of Vitter's investigation into the collusion between environmental activists, lawyers and lobbyists, billionaires and their supporting foundations who use large sums of money to influence environmental public policy, Vitter, along with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform, have been looking into the inappropriate levels of influence of the NRDC over the EPA. Click here to read Sen. Vitter and Rep. Issa's release launching the investigation into NRDC influence over EPA. Click here to access the previously released communications between EPA and the NRDC.
Below are newly released communications between NRDC and EPA:
- Email from NRDC's David Doniger and EPA's Joe Goffman confirming a briefing before the roll-out of a major rule.
- Email between NRDC, EPA, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on "comparing notes" on comments from States and utilities on 111(d) implementation plan.
- Email between members of the "111(d) team," which includes NRDC, EPA, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Resources for the Future (RFF), and others.