Tom Steyer-Created Network Helped Build EPA Regulation Plan

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What do you get when you cross a hedge fund billionaire, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Obama Administration and a disgraced Oregon governor’s staff? A national network of “grassroots” activists pushing through an EPA Regulation plan that could ultimately cost Americans millions of dollars.

According to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which obtained a series of emails between Tom Steyer – the hedge fund billionaire -, EPA and Obama Administration officials, various gubernatorial aides and a host of non-profits and policy groups, all collaborating on a national plan to push through coal-powered energy plant emissions standards. E&E Legal filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the emails pursuant to indications that the Obama Administration was presiding over a surprisingly effective state-by-state lobbying system.

What E&E Legal found was a web of agencies and policy institutes bent on persuading several statehouses – particularly those with Democratic governors but notoriously difficult legislatures, and those in states where the coal industry holds particular sway. The EPA’s plan, rolled into the White House’s Clean Power Plan, involves heavy state-by-state emissions regulations, some of which could cost state-based industries millions. So naturally, the emissions regulations were a hard sell.

And that’s where Tom Steyer and company came in, according to the Free Beacon :

The strategy to win support for the regulation, which critics call onerous, began in late 2013 when aides to Kitzhaber, Oregon Gov. Jay Inslee (D.), and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) opened talks with the White House regarding EPA’s regulations of carbon emissions from power plants, which were being drafted at the time.

Emails in December 2013 dub the plan “Dan’s concept.” That is a reference to Dan Carol, a former Kitzhaber campaign operative and then the highest paid member of his administration.

Carol got that job after he landed a fellowship at the Clean Economy Development Center for Cylvia Hayes, Kitzhaber’s fiancé, even as she acted as an informal adviser to the governor.

Carol was a central figure in the ensuing scandal that in February forced Kitzhaber to resign.

Internal communications described White House meetings on Carol’s “concept” as “a useful and frank discussion about how a group of engaged Governors (not just from the West) could work with the WH on transformational multi-state work around 111d regulatory challenge, sub-national climate action, resilient infrastructure outcomes.”

By January 2014, Carol had emailed a managing partner of one of Tom Steyer’s entities, Fahr LLC, which serves as a sort-of umbrella corporation for Steyer’s various policy and philanthropic efforts, most of which are centered around the environment. By July, they had Steyer’s full team on board, and a month later, they released a planning timeline, putting Steyer’s extensive networks on the ground to work. Two weeks later, the White House was informed of the plan. By April of 2015, the full program lurched to a start, and had caught the eye of the Washington Post.

This week, the White House will unveil an extensive emissions control plan that they say will drastically rein in carbon emissions, though it’s likely to cost Americans 300,000 jobs and millions of dollars in increased energy costs. Tom Steyer, however, who has long desired a complete dismantling of the coal-powered energy industry (despite having a significant investment in its success), will almost certainly benefit.