Heavily Censored Energy Department Papers Show Industry is the Real Author of Administration's Energy Task Force Report

NRDC Will Seek Full Disclosure in Court Today

WASHINGTON (March 27, 2002) -- Despite being heavily censored, the thousands of Department of Energy documents released under court order this week confirm the intimate, secretive relationship between huge, politically connected corporations and the White House energy task force.

That's the finding of legal experts at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), which is reviewing more than 11,000 pages released late Monday night under an order from a U.S. District Court judge here.

Among the more significant revelations unearthed from the heavily redacted documents, NRDC lawyers found:

  • A March 20, 2001 email from the American Petroleum Institute to an Energy Department official provided a draft Executive Order on energy. Two months later, President Bush issued Executive Order 13211, which is nearly identical in structure and impact to the API draft, and nearly verbatim in a key section.

  • In March 2001, a Southern Company lobbyist emailed a DOE official suggesting "another issue" for inclusion in the energy plan: so-called reform of the Clean Air Act and related enforcement actions. The suggestion was incorporated into the energy plan, launching the Administration's controversial effort to weaken the Clean Air Act and retreat from high-profile enforcement actions against the nation's largest polluters, including the Southern Company.

NRDC requested the documents 11 months ago under the Freedom of Information Act, and filed a lawsuit to get the documents after all administrative efforts were rebuffed by the administration. NRDC is represented in its lawsuit by the Washington, D.C. law firm of Meyer and Glitzenstein.

"Big energy companies all but held the pencil for the White House task force as government officials wrote a plan calling for billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, and the wholesale elimination of key health and environmental safeguards," said John H. Adams, NRDC president.

NRDC and many others have been critical of the White House energy task force recommendations, charging the plan does almost nothing to free America from its dependence on foreign oil.

"These documents show how the White House task force turned coal and oil company wish lists directly into national policy while ignoring proven technologies that can help us meet our energy needs cleanly and reliably," explained Sharon Buccino, an NRDC senior attorney.

NRDC also announced today that it is going back to court, so that the administration can explain to a federal judge why it should not be held in contempt for failure to comply with judicial instructions. Department of Energy (DOE) failed to deliver the documents on Monday, as ordered by the court, missing an agreed-upon deadline. NRDC lawyers were forced to wait in line behind reporters at the DOE press office to get the papers.

To see samples of the documents NRDC received from the Department of Energy, click here.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
The Cheney Energy Task Force