(Freedom.news) In what appears to be a classic case of collusion, emails exchanged between an environmental consulting firm that is supporting controversial new regulations limiting power plant emissions helped build support for them by working behind the scenes with senior Environmental Protection Agency officials.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the firm – M.J. Bradley & Associates – recently released a study on carbon emissions from existing power plants in which the firm declared one of most troubling of the new regulations viable and sound. The firm concluded in its supposedly non-partisan, dispassionate study that the EPA regulations are “very achievable,” a key measurement in determining their viability in the face of ongoing legal battles with more than two dozen states.
“This comprehensive analysis shows that, by various pathways, the Clean Power Plan’s carbon pollution reduction goals are very achievable,” Christopher Van Atten, a vice president at the firm, said of the study, the WFB reported.
The new assessment comes as a federal court considers challenges to the EPA’s new rules and whether they ought to be suspended. The rules put onerous new emissions limitations on power stations that opponents say will likely result in the shuttering of many of them. Also, opponents have said the EPA lacks the authority to issue such rules in the first place.
In all, 27 states are challenging the rules via a lawsuit that seeks to block them altogether. States would be responsible for implementing the rules should they remain in effect.
As the WFB noted:
Federal regulations must be achievable—the government cannot place impossible burdens on those it regulates—and the states and industry groups suing the EPA say the 111(d) rule, as the power plant regulation is known, is simply too stringent.
The firm’s study is an effort to mitigate those concerns.
“The nation’s electricity sector can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” Van Atten claimed regarding his firm’s analysis.
However, emails indicate that the firm’s top executives have colluded for years behind the scenes with top EPA officials to help build support for the rules. The agency has depended on the firm in particular to be a public back of the power plant rule in particular.
In a 2012 email from Lisa Jackson, who was head of the EPA at the time, the agency noted that the firm was one of the key industry “validators” for its power plant regulations. Jackson sent the email under the pseudonym Richard Windsor from a personal account she used that was at one time hidden from federal public records requirements.
Nick Conger, an EPA spokesman, told the WFB that the agency picks firms and groups as validators when it thinks they “will provide validation or support for the action that the agency is taking.”
Jackson identified the Clean Energy Group, an advocacy organization run by the firm, as one such validating entity.
According to off-the-record emails, “EPA staffers referred reporters to Michael Bradley, the firm’s founder and president, and Jessica Morey, the Clean Energy Group’s project director, for stories on the agency’s power plant regulations,” the WFB reported.
“The firm also helped senior EPA policy staff to craft talking points for a meeting with the utility giant Exelon, according to another email.”
Opponents of the EPA’s work with the firm say that the agency worked to build a sort of “echo chamber” of support for rules it knew that it likely had no authority to issue.
“Pieced together [the emails] tell a story, clearly. In short, the remarkably close relationship at high levels of EPA activists … with Michael J. Bradley and his client on whose behalf he performs these works of wonder, the Clean Energy Group,” Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – who got the emails via a Freedom of Information Act request – told the WFB.
“This represents the next shoe to drop in the story about EPA’s unlawful work to generate an echo chamber” to support its regulations, he added.
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