Energy firms secretly helped state attorneys general fight Obama

Energy companies have secretly been behind some efforts by state attorneys general to fight Obama administration initiatives, The New York Times reported.

A lengthy investigation by the Times found that many conservative attorneys general, such as Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt, use letters, talking points, legal strategies and other tools from energy companies to fight the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Obama administration offices.

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The state officials then get millions of dollars in campaign donations from the energy companies.

In one example, Pruitt warned the EPA that it was overstating the air pollution from natural gas drilling in his state.

That 2011 letter was nearly identical to one Devon Energy sent Pruitt’s office. A Devon executive later thanked Pruitt’s staff for sending the letter.

Energy lobbyists have also written letters for Pruitt to send to the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and Obama himself, the Times reported.

Pruitt dismissed the criticisms of his energy ties, saying they’re a symptom of the same dysfunctional political climate that he is trying to fight.

The Times found at least a dozen other states’ attorneys using similar tactics.

Its investigation found numerous other ties between energy firms and state attorneys general, including through meetings and conferences intended to discuss strategies to fight what they saw as federal overreach.

In one example, the Times found that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey backed legislation aimed at making it easier for the state to fight federal pollution rules after similar draft legislation was sent to him by an energy lobbyist. The bill passed.