Kristina Baum – 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder – 202.224.4721

Senate EPW Committee Releases Oversight Report: Obama's Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a new EPW Majority Staff Oversight Report today entitled, Obama's Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions.  The report is the product of an ongoing investigation by committee republicans on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) development of Obama’s climate rules. 
“The report exposes how the Obama administration's collusion with outside environmental groups through the use of sue-and-settle tactics has cornered out public input in the rule making process,” said Inhofe. “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. 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. 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. The committee will continue to investigate and expose the legally-questionable actions taking place within the Obama administration regarding EPA’s costly rulemaking.” 

As stated in the executive summary:

“This Majority Staff Report provides an unprecedented look into the inner-workings of EPA’s rule making process — from the time the agency entered into ‘sue-and-settle’ agreements with environmental activists in 2010 through its June 2014 proposal to limit carbon emissions from existing sources. This report, for the first time, exposes in depth how the settlement process was abused in a way that prevented the American people and those parties responsible for implementing the rules from knowing basic details of EPA’s plans to regulate let alone from participating in the process.

“Critically, documents illustrate that EPA seemingly misjudged its ability – or was too willing to appease its environmental allies – to appreciate the complexity of the task at hand. EPA initially agreed to finalize rules for new, modified, and existing sources by May 2012, less than a year and a half after the settlement was reached and well within President Obama’s first and potentially only term. That timeline quickly proved unrealistic as EPA realized these rules could cause political problems for the President or add to a regulatory “train wreck” during an election year. Despite environmentalists’ angst over completing the rules before the 2012 election, EPA tempered the groups’ expectations until after the President’s reelection." 

Findings from the report include, but are not limited to:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts to regulate carbon emissions from power plants were driven by Obama Administration officials and environmental activist groups who worked to fulfill the President’s climate commitments following the defeat of climate legislation in Congress and lack of support for an international climate treaty. – pages 15-17, 29, 50, and 56
  • EPA rushed into a “sue-and-settle” agreement with environmental activists groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other environmental activists in 2010 to issue unprecedented carbon regulations with little regard to the technical, legal, and policy challenges that that these rules would present. – pages 14-19, 21, 26, 30-39, 45-48, 56, and 61
  • EPA played politics with the regulatory process by trying to manipulate rulemaking deadlines to avoid a public backlash close to the 2012 Presidential and 2014 midterm elections, and to push implementation of the rules to the next Administration. – pages 16, 17, 31-34, 40-49, 55, and 64
  • EPA officials repeatedly misled the American people, the news media, and Congress about their negotiations with environmental activists and the contribution made by these activists to the development of the carbon rules. – pages 4-6, 47, 48, 54, 62-64, and 67
  • The White House, EPA, and environmental activists worked together to manage the public message on the carbon rules. – pages 28-29, 33-35, 39, 46, 47, 50-51, 54, and 68
  • EPA’s process for developing the carbon rules deviated from the Agency’s statutory authority under the Clean Air Act and established policies and circumvented transparency laws and public participation requirements. – pages 22, 23, 28, 32, 43, 48-49, and 62-64
  • EPA and environmental activists had cozy relationships and egregiously used personal emails and held meetings away from EPA headquarters, including a local park and coffee shops.

To read the full text of the report, click here.