FOIA documents reveal that industry demands were directly reflected in bogus DOE coal bailout plans
June 6, 2018 – Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request documents obtained by the watchdog group Energy Policy Institute with the assistance from Earthjustice reveal that communications between FirstEnergy Inc. executives, coal baron Robert Murray and Department of Energy (DOE) officials reference language and suggested action plans that found their way into various iterations of DOE proposals aimed at bailing out uneconomic coal plants and nuclear plants. Much of the language, which appears to crib directly from industry lobbyist asks, are attempts to either justify bogus claims or circumvent regulatory scrutiny.
The documents reveal that Murray requested DOE use “emergency actions” to direct that power plants with a specified fuel supply not be closed during a minimum two-year “study period.” This request mirrors exactly the language of a recently leaked DOE memorandum justifying the use of two arcane laws to achieve exactly the result Murray asked for.
“These documents present a direct line between industry demands and the Department of Energy’s ludicrous grid study and its more recent attempts to rescue uneconomic coal plants,” said Earthjustice Staff Attorney Kim Smaczniak. “When lobbyists are telling a senior DOE official, ‘We owe you. Thanks a million,’ after a meeting with the head of DOE — that’s a red flag. But I suppose the lobbyist should be appreciative, because Rick Perry’s actions afterward reveal that he’s ready to give them everything they wanted.”
Earthjustice assisted the Energy and Policy Institute in obtaining Department of Energy documents from a December 2017 Freedom of Information Act request.