(WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 6,2018) 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.
“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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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.