Commentary

AGs United for Clean Power Fail to Fulfill Their Mission

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A coalition of Attorneys General (AG) have launched a full-fledged witch hunt into fossil fuel companies and energy groups who they believe may be misleading the public about the harmful impacts of carbon emissions on humans and the environment, and the larger role these gases play in climate change.

The group, AGs United for Clean Power, announced the establishment of their coalition during a press event on March 29, stating their goals to aggressively protect the progress the United States has made in battling climate change. Moving forward, the group of AGs will facilitate ongoing and joint investigations between coalition members, seeking out power companies who, in their view, could be fabricating the numbers on the harmful effects their companies have on the environment.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made the announcement alongside former Vice President and notable lefty idealist, Al Gore. Gore has called the coalition “the best, most hopeful step in years” in protecting the legislative steps environmentalists have taken in curbing emissions and combating climate change.

“We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry or any industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet,” Gore said during the event. “Attorneys general and law enforcement officials around the country have long held a vital role in ensuring that the progress we have made to solve the climate crisis is not only protected, but advanced. The first-of-its-kind coalition announced today is another key step on the path to a sustainable, clean energy future.”

The group aims to “limit climate change-causing carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants under the Clean Power Plan, push for federal controls on methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry, and work on controlling emissions from large-scale industry facilities,” according to an official statement from Schneiderman’s office.

Unfortunately, amongst the coalition members is Maine’s own attorney general, Janet Mills. Mills is well known for sparring with Gov. Paul LePage on many issues, including the recent hiring of several executive branch lawyers on behalf of the LePage administration without Mills’ consent. She is just one of 25 AGs from several U.S. entities that have signed on board with the organization.

Mills and company are treating fossil fuel-burning companies similar to how many former AGs treated the big tobacco companies in the 1990s, when they collaboratively tackled them for misinforming the public on the harmful effects of tobacco use. Inspired, and through partisan alignment, the coalition hopes to expose misstatements and incorrect claims by power companies that produce non-renewable, or “dirty” energy, and prosecute them to the full extent.

Despite the group’s infatuation with clean power and stated purpose to protect existing green energy policy, the group doesn’t seem to have much interest in following up on the recent downfall of a major clean energy producer in the U.S.

Mills and her coalition cohorts have not discussed investigating the collapse of SunEdison, one of the world’s largest global renewable energy development companies, which has pending projects in Maine. SunEdison is on the verge of bankruptcy despite the $1.5 billion it has received in subsidies and loan guarantees from the federal government. Currently, the Justice Department and Securities Exchange Commission are investigating SunEdison’s finances and the disclosures it made to investors before the company’s stock recently went into total freefall.

The Los Angeles Times also reported in late March that SunEdison is currently at risk of filing for bankruptcy protection. In July of last year, the company was trading at $31 a share. Today the stock sits at 31 cents a share. Additionally, the company is yet to release its numbers and financial condition for the year of 2015. The company has delayed filing its results, citing their “material weaknesses in its internal controls over reporting.”

In other words, a company that is handsomely subsidized by the federal government has no internal accountability or oversight, and because the left has inspired our government to pick winners and losers through vacuous energy policies, operations like SunEdison are given taxpayer dollars to fuel their own demise and run amok.

Because the government money will continuously flow, and because they know they can be further subsidized under the Obama Administration, SunEdison has had the freedom to spend at will and run their operation into the dirt, all on your dime.

So, while this coalition of AGs may tout itself as the first-of-its-kind to combat climate change and hold “dirty” power producers accountable, their actions can be chalked up to games of partisan politics, those normally played by members of Congress. Rather than fulfilling their self-described mission, AGs United for Clean Power is ignoring an obvious case of potential corruption, and is instead pushing forward to investigate companies that are operating within full means of the law.

In doing so, the group is delving into a political arena of which it does not belong. Their fact-finding missions will only further perpetuate the party divide on climate change, and their partisan inaction toward the exposure of potential industry corruption has already diminished the little credibility they had. This group will only waste time and taxpayer dollars, much like SunEdison, on frivolous expeditions that will turn up nothing warranting their impending investigations.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center and the editor of The Maine Wire. He can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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