Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have formed secretive alliances with "energy companies and other corporate interests" to fight Obama administration regulations, a new investigation by the New York Times has found.
The Times notes that though individual attorneys general have before pushed for changes following lobbyists' interventions, "never before have attorneys general joined on this scale with corporate interests to challenge Washington and file lawsuits in federal court."
Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt, for example, has sent energy industry-drafted letters, with nearly no changes, to the EPA, and the Times reports that industry has similarly sent other attorneys general drafted legislation for them to push through.
Such AG-corporate alliances were fostered at meetings like the "Summit on Federalism and the Future of Fossil Fuels" last year, which brought 9 attorneys general and members of the oil and gas industries together.
From that meeting emerged a "strike force" to determine which attorney general’s office could best be suited to fighting particular regulation, such as regulation to strengthen coal ash regulation.
While the efforts by the attorneys general sparked contributions, getting state support for these kinds of efforts offers benefits in litigation, the investigation notes:
For the industry, the state is an extremely valued partner because states are granted “special solicitude” from the federal courts, a critical advantage to private companies that helps confer legal standing and means that a matter is less likely to be dismissed.
In addition to the American Petroleum Institute, major energy companies — ConocoPhillips, the oil and gas company; Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining giant; and American Electric Power, the nation’s biggest coal consumer — have recently joined the Republican Attorneys General Association, bringing in hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to the group, internal documents show.