How Big Oil, Big Government and Big Business Got the Environment in Their Hands


By David Donnelly and David DayenNovember 12, 2017—An article by David Donnick, editor of The American Prospect, and David D. Dayen, senior editor of the New York Times, about the influence of the fossil fuel industry on federal policy and the environment.

“In Washington, D.C., big business is at the helm of the environmental movement,” reads a headline of a recent article in The American Post.

“Big Oil, big government, and big business have an agenda to protect the environment and the fossil fuels they produce.”

The article describes how the fossil-fuel industry and its allies have created a political machine in Washington that allows them to use their power to block or delay environmental regulations.

The article is based on interviews with three former government officials and two former federal officials who served in the Trump administration, and on documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The sources told The Intercept that the fossil energy industry has also sought to influence the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its “advocacy arm.”

According to one former DOE official, the fossil oil and gas industry “does everything possible to make sure that they get the most bang for their buck.”

The energy industry’s lobbying arm, the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), “is a 501(c)(4) organization that receives support from fossil fuel interests.

It has its own office, and the head of EELI, Dan Hollinger, is the former head of the Republican National Committee,” according to The Intercept.

“They are funded by the fossil industry, and we know that the Trump campaign was a huge donor to them,” said another former DOE officials.

“The Trump campaign didn’t need to do this to win.

It’s an industry-funded effort.”

According a recent analysis by the Energy Policy Center, “The fossil fuel-funded advocacy group, EELi, has been a critical player in shaping federal policy since the Obama administration.”

This group is also a member of the board of directors of the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry.

EELs lobbying efforts have been critical to the Trump agenda.

“EELi has been at the forefront of the Trump-era push to roll back environmental protections, which has made them one of the most powerful lobby groups in Washington,” said a spokesperson for EELis executive director, Andrew Steer.

Eelis also has “developed and implemented a number of sophisticated strategies to use the political and public climate to advance its oil and coal agenda,” according the American Prospect article.

The fossil fuel lobbying arm of Eeli has also been a key player in the EPA’s efforts to overturn the EPA rules on methane pollution, and it is “finally taking the lead on a new rule that would require the coal industry to report methane emissions to the EPA, a major victory for climate justice,” said the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

In addition to the fossil gas lobbying arm’s efforts, the energy industry is also heavily involved in the fight against the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

The Clean Power Act would limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent from 2020 through 2025.

Under the plan, if implemented, the Clean Air Act would be suspended.

The plan has been opposed by the coal lobby, which says the rules would destroy jobs and raise the cost of power generation.

“We believe that the Clean power plan is a big mistake and we have to stop it, and if the Obama Administration doesn’t do that, the next president is going to have to,” said David Zuckerman, senior director of policy at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for a Trump administration to take this seriously.”

The fossil-oil industry’s allies also have a significant influence on the federal government.

They “have a tremendous amount of power over the White House,” said Scott Walker, executive director of Americans for Prosperity.

“Every day the president tweets out their agenda, it becomes more and more apparent that they’re working to dismantle and roll back federal protections,” said Walker.

“This has been going on for years, and now we’re seeing it in action.”

The former Energy Department official told The American Press that the coal lobbyist and energy industry “are very, very powerful.”

The sources also said that the oil and oil industry is funding the research and development of the carbon capture and storage technology that could “sustainably capture carbon dioxide from power stations.”

“There are so many ways in which the fossil industries are pushing to undermine climate action and climate justice, that it is hard to know how much they really know about it,” said D.J. Ricks, co-director of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions at

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