For Immediate Release
Brian Willis, 202.675.2386, Brian.Willis@sierraclub.org
Sierra Club and EDF Take Trump’s FOIA Failure on Coal, Nuclear Bailout Documents to Court
WASHINGTON - The Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sued the Department of Energy today for its failure to hand over documents as part of a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests pertaining to the Trump Administration’s reported plan to force taxpayers and electricity customers to pay billions of dollars to bail out uneconomic coal and nuclear plants.
“What does the Trump Administration have to hide about its abhorrent plan that would make working families pay billions to bail out fossil fuel executives? We are taking them to court to demand answers about what’s really behind this bailout that only benefits millionaire energy executives who backed Trump’s campaign.” said Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “The public has the right to know why the Trump Administration is trying to increase their electricity bills to keep dangerous, polluting plants needlessly online longer -- and, come hell or high water, we will fight for the transparency required by law.”
The environmental organizations’ lawsuit comes amid intense criticism of the Trump Administration’s bailout proposal from a diverse array of concerned stakeholders - including energy companies, current and former federal energy officials, utilities and energy suppliers, and consumer advocates. The reported plan outlines how the Administration would use emergency laws, which have historically been reserved for wartime necessity or natural disasters, to prop up failing coal and nuclear plants that are ready to be replaced with newer, cheaper competitors like solar, wind, and energy efficiency resources.
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“The American public should know about the Trump Administration’s efforts to create a policy that would increase electricity costs for families and businesses, stifle innovation, and increase pollution,” said EDF Attorney Ben Levitan. “The Trump Administration must fulfill its legal obligations to disclose these records.”
Numerous media reports, academic studies, and expert analyses have shown that, not only is there no emergency that would necessitate the bailout, but also that the Administration’s reported plan would cost tens of billions of dollars, upend America’s electricity markets, and spike electricity prices. A prominent recent analysis from The Brattle Group estimated that the bailout could have a $34 billion price tag for taxpayers and electricity customers. With no public evidence to justify DOE’s apparent plans to invoke its emergency authority for such bailouts,, the Sierra Club and EDF have repeatedly requested documents through FOIA to inform the public and elected officials on the Administration’s intentions, but their requests have been continually ignored and delayed.
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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.