Leaked Clean Coal Strategy Memo to Peabody Energy

Read time: 4 mins

A 2004 memo from Steve Miller, CEO of a coal industry lobby group to the CEO of Peabody Energy, details the public relations and lobbying strategies being used to deal with issues ranging from climate change to Mercury.

When it rains it pours.

Earlier today we told you about a newsletter written by a Virginia-based public relations firm called the Hawthorn Group that sent out a newsletter to their “friends and family” outlining the work they did on behalf of a coal industry lobby group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Now we’ve came across a 2004 memo to coal giant Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) from Steve Miller, then President of the Center for Energy and Economic Development (now called American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity) to Irl F. Engelhardt, the CEO of one of the largest coal companies in the world, Peabody Energy.

The memo provides a lot of insight into the strategies and tactics that the coal lobby was using at the time to spin everything from Mercury to climate change to the McCain-Lieberman bill.

Below are some of the choice quotes, if you want to download the entire document in PDF go here: Coal Industry Strategy Letter to CEO of Peabody Energy.

On climate change:

“In the climate change arena, CEED focuses on three areas: opposing government-mandated controls of greenhouse gases (GHG), opposing “regulation by litigation”, and supporting sequestration and technology as the proper vehicles for addressing any reasonable concerns about greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”


Our belief is that, on climate change like other issues, you must be for something rather than against everything. The combination of carbon sequestration and technology is what we preach and we are looking for more members in the choir.

On the McCain-Lieberman Bill:

“The McCain-Lieberman bill would create a national CO2 cap and trade program that would be highly injurious to coal-based electricity.”

And the plan to fight the bill,

“Last week, we activated the Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) citizen army to call targeted U.S. Senators, urging them to vote against this amendment. Through today, more than 6,000 citizen members have called or e-mailed their senators. Our most recent effort follows on the heels of last fall’s citizen army activation, which generated more than 7,000 calls to target Senators in opposition to McCain-Lieberman. Joe Lucas, our Vice President’s Communications, coordinates this ABEC activity.”

On opposing a regional cap and trade program:

“More than a year ago, New York Governor Pataki proposed an eleven-state regional CO2 cap and trade program. CEED has been engaged in this effort from its beginning. Persuading Pennsylvania and Maryland (as major coal-consuming states) to stay on the sidelines, rather than signing onto this initiative, has been one element of our strategy. The other element is to pose voluntary sequestration and technology as the correct policy, rather than mandatory controls.” [my emphasis]

On “sowing discord” amongst regions:

In recent weeks, we have persuaded the RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Iniatiative) participants to post the following pieces of CEED research on their web site for consumption by the states:

* A 2003 New Hope study showing reductions in greenhouse gases by the RGGI states would have an infinitesimal affect on global GHG concentrations.

* A 2003 Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) study revealing negative economic results would flow to northeastern states that constrain CO2 emissions.

* A 2004 Energy Ventures Analysis report analyzing the affect of various cap and trade proposals, along with an output-based standard, on RGGI states as well as Pennsylvania and Maryland. EVA found that the economic consequences vary widely.

We plan to use this research to sow discord among the RGGI states. [my emphasis]

On the EPA decision to regulate greenhouse gas:

About a dozen states sued the EPA last year alleging that the agency must regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act. CEED was the lead organization for outreach to the vast majority of state attorneys general who intervened on the Bush Administration’s side in new litigation designed to force CO2 regulation under the Clean Air Act.

On regional carbon sequestration programs:

For almost a year, CEED has participated in six regional carbon sequestration partnerships established by the U.S. Department of Energy. We made modest financial contributions to the partnerships so that we can participate in their substantive decisions. Our staff and Ned Leonard (who is a loaned executive from Western Fuels Association) have interacted with and, where appropriate, guided these regional partnerships in terms of public policy and public outreach. Our goal is straightforward: persuade states that voluntary sequestration activities and technology investments are appropriate policies to address climate change concerns, while government mandatory controls are not. [my emphasis]

On Mercury:

Our strategy in dealing with mercury has been two-fold: prevent states from taking precipitous or unwarranted action to regulate mercury and engage in the federal rulemaking to protect the interests of coal-based electricity.


In 2003, the Quicksilver Caucus with ECOS [Environmental Council of States] tried to pass a resolution calling for the “virtual elimination” of mercury. CEED worked in a coalition with other organizations and companies to convince many states that the Quicksilver strategy was not the right approach and the “virtual elimination” verbiage failed.

Hat tip to Vote Gibbons Out, who first found this memo.

This month we’re giving away FREE copies Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal. Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.

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