“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. 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. Tags: Renwick DeVillePayton KeithMary LandrieuU.S. Sen. Mary LandrieuUS Rep. Ted PoeTed PoeUS Senator Mary LandrieuUS Rep. Kevin BradyFERCRandall ReeseJohn CornynU.S. Sen. John CornynUS Senator John CornynFederal Energy Regulatory CommissionHubert Oxford IIISabine Neches Navigation DistrictHarris DeVille & AssociatesMT Sen. Debby BarrettFederal RegisterdoeUS Department of EnergyUS DOEKKRKohlberg Kravis RobertsDavid PetraeusNorth DakotaBakken Shalefrackinghydraulic fracturingshaleshale oilshale gasunconventional oilunconventional gasMT Senator Debby BarrettMontana Senator Debby BarrettGhostwritingMontanaLouisianaMontana Sen. Debby BarrettBillings GazetteMontana Chamber of CommerceUS DOIUS Department of InteriorDepartment of InteriorGhostwriteKing Coalbig oilCloudpeak GhostwritingCloudpeak EnergycoaloilLNGExxonMobilQatarGolden Pass ProductsLiquefied Natural Gasnatural gasQatar PetroleumGolden Pass LNG


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