by Max Brantley
Coal company Murray Energy and electricity giant Southern Company, which owns several southeastern utilities and a number of natural gas companies, held private meetings with attorneys general at the Republican Attorneys General Association’s annual summit in West Virginia in August 2015. The meetings cost up to $125,000 per company, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, which uncovered the documents.People like Rutledge probably didn't need much spinning, but the session also provided some educational topics.
“State attorneys general are supposed to enforce the law and serve the public interest, but instead these Republican officials have hung a ‘For Sale’ sign on their door, and the fossil fuel industry proved to be the highest bidder,” Nick Surgey, research director for the watchdog group, said in a statement.
According to the documents, released this week, the 2015 meeting also featured a panel presentation titled “The Dangerous Consequences of the Clean Power Plan & Other EPA Rules.” Speakers included Mike Duncan, President of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Geoffrey Barnes, a lawyer for Murray Energy, and Republican attorneys general Scott Pruitt (OK), Patrick Morrisey (WV), and Ken Paxton (TX).As noted, Rutledge joined in the suit a week after the confab with polluters.
“Together, these documents reveal a sustained pattern of collusion between the fossil fuel industry and the Republican attorneys general on climate change obstructionism,” Surgey said.