The Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans today released emails between top officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including Gina McCarthy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which demonstrate the very close working relationship between the two organizations to develop the carbon rule - dating back to 2011 - two years before EPA has said the public had an opportunity to provide input.

Sen. David Vitter, top Republican on the EPW Committee, has launched the second phase of his 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 investigating 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 EPAClick here to access the previously released communications between EPA and the NRDC.

"Even though both sides have vehemently denied it, these discoveries clearly demonstrate the EPA and NRDC's beyond-cozy relationship and force the question - Who is working for whom? The key example in all of this is the settlement agreement on greenhouse gases when the NRDC sued the EPA, the EPA settled, and the two celebrate the agreement. It doesn't get any more blatantly obvious than that," said Vitter. "The worst part in all of this - their carbon plan will kill jobs across the country, decrease electricity reliability, and increase the cost of energy for American families."

In 2010, the NRDC and others sued the EPA to force the agency to further restrict greenhouse gas emissions.  Later that year, the EPA accomplished their joint plan, memorialized in a settlement agreement.  The same day the EPA announced the settlement agreement, we now know Gina McCarthy and a top official at NRDC exchanged congratulatory emails to one another.  McCarthy went so far as to say, "This success is yours as much as mine."

EPA and NRDC then engaged in a series of meetings (see below) deliberating how to regulate greenhouse gases from existing coal-fired power plants.  In one revealing exchange sent on June 8, 2011, an NRDC attorney sent McCarthy a power point presentation that he had presented to an EPA "workgroup," which included the basis of EPA's recently proposed carbon rule.  In response, McCarthy wrote, "I would never say no to a meeting with you."

The EPW Republicans Billionaire's Club report disclosed that the Obama-led EPA has given NRDC $1,877,907 in taxpayer-funded grants.

In July, the New York Times exposed the close communication between the EPA and NRDC when developing the Agency's new carbon plan. Below is an excerpt from the article:

"Over the next two years the lawyers, David Doniger and David Hawkins, and the scientist, Daniel Lashof, worked with a team of experts to write a 110-page proposal, widely viewed as innovative and audacious, that was aimed at slashing planet-warming carbon pollution from the nation's coal-fired power plants. On June 2, President Obama proposed a new Environmental Protection Agency rule to curb power plant emissions that used as its blueprint the work of the three men and their team." - Taking oil industry cue, environmentalists drew emissions blueprint by Coral Davenport, July 6, 2014, New York Times

The NRDC and EPA have both denied this.

  • "The letter claims NRDC played ‘an outsized role' on these issues, which is apparently the authors' way of saying that EPA ended up agreeing with some of what NRDC had to say. What exactly is the problem with this, other than Vitter disagreeing with the policy EPA adopted? Oh, and the letter also claims NRDC had ‘unprecedented access to high-level EPA officials' - which is doubtful - but why is it a subject of investigation that we got the chance to make our case? So did states. So did industry."- Democracy 101: Or, what does David Vitter want? by David Goldston, September 4, 2014, NRDC Switchboard Blog
  • "EPA rebutted allegations by GOP lawmakers today that the Natural Resources Defense Council had an outsized influence on its proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

"‘If anyone deserves credit for giving us ideas about how to approach the problem, it's the states and communities on the ground that are already cutting pollution through the approaches we're calling for in the proposal - cleaner, more efficient energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy,' said EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia." -  EPA disputes allegations of undue NRDC influence on climate plan by Erica Martinson, September 2, 2014, Politico Pro Whiteboard

Below are the newly released links to the communications between the EPA and NRDC: