Leaders of a new GOP group, the “Rural American Solutions Group,” are distributing a document attacking climate change legislation as an economic burden to most of the country. As it turns out, the information in the press release was provided to the Republican congressmen by Peabody Energy, a juggernaut of the coal industry. Staffers for GOP Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Sam Graves (R-MO), and Doc Hastings (R-WA) are emailing around a map that purports to detail “how the Democrats’ National Energy Tax unfairly targets rural Americans.”
A closer look at the source of the image reveals the document’s origins:
Two employees of Peabody Energy are listed in the metadata of the map document: Chairman and CEO Greg Boyce and Communications Manager Chris Taylor. The congressmen opposing climate change legislation — Reps. Lucas, Graves, and Hastings — are simply copying-and-pasting information that has been directly fed to them by Peabody Energy.
Peabody Energy’s outsized political influence is well-documented:
— From 2004 to 2008, the Peabody Energy PAC contributed $579,538 to federal candidates including Rep. Sam Graves and Rep. Frank Lucas. In 2008, Peabody contributed $150,290; $180,500 in 2006; $130,250 in 2004; $118,498 in 2002. [Opensecrets]
— Peabody Is An $8.4 Million Lobbying Juggernaut. Peabody Energy directly spent over $8.4 million lobbying Congress in 2008, up 3,200 percent from 2004, as legislation to limit coal pollution became an election-year issue. In addition, the Peabody-supported front groups ACCCE and the National Mining Association spent a further $9.95 million and $4.56 million respectively on lobbying efforts. [OpenSecrets]
Democrat Marcy Kaptur (OH) may be joining the Republicans’ efforts. According to Roll Call, Kaptur “has been passing out maps contending that most states would lose out under the cap-and-trade bill crafted by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).” It is unclear whether the maps Kaptur is handing out are Peabody’s maps.