Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pruitt's friends turn lobbyists; Their clients score EPA wins


Glenn Coffee, who served with Scott Pruitt in the Oklahoma Senate, and Crystal Coon, Pruitt’s former chief of staff, hadn't lobbied at the federal level before 2017.



EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt flew to a Georgia school to announce that the EPA will now consider the burning of biomass, such as wood, to be carbon neutral. Credit: EPA
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt flew to a Georgia school to announce that EPA will consider the burning of biomass, such as wood, to be carbon neutral. A lobbying firm launched last year by friends of Pruitt in Oklahoma was paid by the forestry industry to lobby his agency on the issue. Credit: EPA
Marianne Lavelle reports for Inside Climate News:

When Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt declared this week that tree burning was inherently a carbon-neutral way to produce electricity, it was a victory for some Oklahoma friends of Scott Pruitt.
An Oklahoma City-based lobbying firm that opened in 2017, the Coffee Group, was paid $100,000 over the past year by an alliance of forestry companies—including giants Weyerhaeuser and Sierra Pacific—that have been seeking federal recognition of biomass as renewable energy on par with solar or wind.
Glenn Coffee, who served in the Oklahoma Senate with Pruitt, and Crystal Coon, who was Pruitt's chief of staff while he was state attorney general, made the case before EPA for the forestry companies, according to lobbying disclosure reports.There's no law against friends lobbying friends. And the Coffee Group's earnings were only a fraction of the $1.7 million spent over the past year by the National Alliance of Forest Owners on lobbyists to press its case with the Trump administration and Congress. But amid the morass of ethical questions swirling around Pruitt over his spending on travel and security, his handling of personnel matters and potential conflicts of interest, it is yet more evidence that industry influence-peddling is alive and well—and paying off—in an administration that promised to "drain the swamp."
For the Coffee Group's three members, who never had lobbied at the federal level before and who all have other jobs, lobbying the EPA on behalf of six different clients over the past year has brought in $480,000.

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