John Cornyn

"Carbon Copy": How Big Oil and King Coal Ghost Write Letters for Public Officials, Business Groups

The Billings Gazette has revealed that coal mining company Cloudpeak Energy ghost wrote protest letters to the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) on behalf of allied policymakers and business groups. 

Reporter Tom Lutey examined numerous letters written to DOI from Montana-based stakeholders and noticed something unusual: the language in every single letter was exactly the same. That is, the same except for a parenthetical note in one of them instructing the supposed writer of it to “insert name/group/entity.”

The “carbon copied” (pun credit goes to Lutey) letters requested for the DOI to give states a time extension to begin implementing new rules dictating the coal industry give states a “fair return” on mining leases granted to industry by the states. DOI ended up giving King Coal the 60-day extension.

“Last month, coal proponents scored a major victory by convincing the Department of Interior to hold off on its rule making for 60 days so that more people could respond,” Lutey wrote. “Members of the Montana Legislature, along with county commissioners and mayors from Montana and Wyoming communities put the weight of their political offices behind letters asking the DOI for more time. What they didn’t offer were their own words.”

Among those who submitted a “carbon copied” letter originally written by Cloudpeak Energy include the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Billings Chamber of Commerce, Montana Coal Council, Montana Sen. Debby Barrett and the Yellowstone County Board of Commissioners.  

Unlike others, the Montana Chamber of Commerce embarassingly forgot to take out the boilerplate “insert name/group/entity” language. 

Montana Chamber of Commerce Ghostwriting Coal Letter
Image Credit: Quit Coal

Cloud Peak responded by saying this was a “sample letter…included as part of…briefings,” but did not clarify if those allied stakeholders were supposed to send them to DOI in verbatim fashion, as did the Montana Chamber.

All Three Senators Who Voted Against John Kerry Are Pro-Keystone XL, Anti-Science, Climate Deniers

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry as the new Secretary of State, by a vote of 94-3.  The three “no” votes were cast by infamous climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK), and two anti-environment Texas Republicans, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

All three Republican Senators, Cornyn, Cruz and Inhofe signed the letter to President Obama last week calling for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would lead to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands, one of the dirtiest megaprojects on earth. 

John Kerry is praised for his environmental record as a Senator, and he's widely anticipated to uphold his leadership role on climate change issues as Secretary of State. 

During his confirmation hearings, Kerry promised to make climate change a top priority at State. “I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology, but based on facts, based on science.”

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