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Emails Suggest Department of Justice Working with Oil Industry to Dispute Climate Lawsuits

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In 2018, emails were exchanged between the U.S Department of Justice and oil companies. This was in response to Oakland and San Francisco suing the oil industry for endangering the climate and overall air quality. 

The cities argue, as most of us agree, that oil companies should be held responsible for the output they create. Upon receiving this threat, the DOJ began to prepare a brief supporting the oil industry. Eric Grant, deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, even sent an email to Indiana’s solicitor general claiming his “boss” requested he set up a meeting to establish a plan to intervene for the companies’ benefit. 

An additional 15 other states were mentioned to have been involved.

From February to May 2018, emails spanned a total of 178 pages in an attempt for the DOJ and oil companies to work together against lawsuits.

Information regarding emails was obtained by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) due to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails don’t go into detail as to what took place during in-person meetings. However, they do communicate a close relationship between the Trump administration and the oil industry. Red flags immediately went up. Federal government objectivity has been harmed as to whether or not they were acting in the best interest of the people. 

According to InsideClimate News, Grant nor his colleagues involved in the meetings with the industry responded to a request for comment. The Justice Department and industry lawyers also did not respond. Legal experts suggest this behavior is highly questionable.

Since the emails don’t directly cover topics discussed during in-person meetings, it is hard to point out whether ethics were compromised. 

“The United States has strong economic and national security interests in promoting the development of fossil fuels, among other energy resources,” Jeff Wood, the Trump-appointed acting assistant attorney general leading the Environment and Natural Resources Division, at the time, wrote in a brief.

AMICUS BRIEF

The lack of detail in the emails is enough to raise questions. However, it is not enough to fully claim the intentions behind it. These cases, among many, have yet to be resolved which speaks volumes on its own. 

 

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