Non-profit

Energy and Environment Legal Institute

Website:

eelegal.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

26-4239065

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $354,557
Expenses: $494,855
Assets: $385,673

Formation:

2009

Type:

Legal Advocacy

President:

Craig Richardson

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal; previously known as the Western Tradition Institute and the American Tradition Institute) is a right-of-center nonprofit legal advocacy group that opposes environmentalist legislation and works for transparency in climate science. E&E Legal was central to exposing a plan by left-of-center activist groups and Democratic politicians, including 17 state attorneys general, to prosecute oil company ExxonMobil using RICO statutes. [1]

E&E Legal is the child organization of the American Tradition Partnership (formerly the Western Tradition Partnership), a right-of-center political advocacy organization. Following accusations of campaign finance impropriety, the Western Tradition Partnership changed its name, and in 2010, it announced the formation of the Western Tradition Institute. In 2013, the Institute changed its name to the Energy and Environment Legal Institute. [2] [3]

E&E Legal is a member of the State Policy Network, a right-of-center coalition of organizations that focus on state policy issues. [4]

Activities

Energy and Environment Legal Institute works primarily through lawsuits to advocate in favor of right-of-center energy and environmental policy. The organization has fought against left-of-center environmentalist organizations and officials, using the courts to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits against groups that support environmentalist policy implementation to expose the funding and research behind environmentalist advocacy. E&E Legal also works to use commercial statutes and legal protections to prevent the implementation of market restrictions in the name of environmentalism[5]

Aside from its legal initiatives, E&E Legal engages in research and education initiatives to promote free market environmental policy. This includes publishing a quarterly magazine and making frequent public statements. [6]

Litigation

In January 2011, E&E Legal (then the American Tradition Institute) filed a lawsuit against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for refusing to turn over information related to controversial environmentalist researcher James Hansen’s outside employment, revenue generation efforts, and advocacy activities to evaluate potential conflicts of interest. A court dismissed the lawsuit in December of the same year, with NASA agreeing to pay over $10,000 in court costs and fees for E&E Legal. [7]

In May 2011, E&E Legal sued the University of Virginia for its incomplete disclosure of emails by Michael E. Mann, a left-of-center professor of atmospheric science at the center of the “Climategate” email scandal which appeared to show prominent climate scientists concealing or manipulating climate data. The university released “approximately 20%” of the requested correspondence after an FOIA request, but it refused to turn over the remainder of the requested documents, citing an exemption on the grounds that the documents may have contained study results or scientific data not then published. The university was initially ordered to turn over the remaining documents by August 22, 2011, but this decision was overturned on appeal. In April 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the appeal. [8]

E&E Legal filed a similar suit against the University of Arizona Board of Regents in 2013, with the university again declaring that emails should remain private because they may contain research information and unpublished data. This defense failed, and in 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court declined to intervene to block the release of the requested data. [9]

Notable Research

In August 2019, E&E Legal issued a press release requesting that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigate allegedly misleading claims made by corporations in relation to reduction of carbon emissions. The press release cited statements made by ExxonMobil, Apple, Xcel, and Exelon. [10]

On September 22, 2020, E&E Legal released a state-by-state report calculating the economic and social costs of moving power grids and vehicles to environmentalist energy sources to reduce carbon emissions from conventional energy sources. The report places the estimated cost of these infrastructure changes at somewhere between $18 and $29 trillion, with an estimated $5,000 increase in energy costs per household. The report recommended using carbon capture technology and other, cheaper means to reduce carbon emissions without moving to an environmentalist energy infrastructure. [11]

Climate-RICO Scandal

In April 2016, E&E LEGAL began publishing emails and documents related to a plan by 17 state attorneys general, led by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), to prosecute oil firm ExxonMobil using the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organization Act (RICO). The attorneys general signed a common interest agreement, agreeing to mark documents related to the case they were building against ExxonMobil as confidential. [12]

The effort was later revealed to be part of a much larger coalition effort involving both Democratic politicians and left-of-center activist groups including Greenpeace, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Working Families Party, and the New Venture Fund. The group’s written goals from a January 2015 meeting included the desire “to delegitimize [ExxonMobil] as a political actor” and to make climate change and ExxonMobil key 2016 election issues. [13]

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote an opinion piece on May 29, 2015 for the Washington Post suggesting that conventional energy companies had engaged in deception that would leave them open to prosecution under RICO laws. [14]

In October 2015, U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether ExxonMobil could be prosecuted under RICO, drawing a comparison to previous efforts made against tobacco companies. [15]

Following the exposure of the coalition, 14 of the attorneys general abandoned the plan, leaving only Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D). [16]

Schneiderman originally suggested that ExxonMobil had hidden findings of its research on climate change, but this suggestion was proven false when the company demonstrated that its published climate research was in line with standard models. Schneiderman then shifted tactics, suggesting that ExxonMobil had overstated the value of its oil reserves and could be prosecuted under New York’s 1921 Martin Act. [17]  Schneiderman’s case, People of the State of New York vs. Exxon-Mobil Corporation, was dismissed with prejudice in December 2019. [18]

Leadership

Craig Richardson is the president of E&E Legal and the co-founder of lobbying group Washington Strategies. He is also former executive director and co-founder of the American-Danish Business Council, and a former aide to retired U.S. Senator Tom Delay (R-TX). [19]

Steve Milloy is a senior policy fellow at E&E Legal and the founder of JunkScience.com, a right-of-center website that attempts to combat mainstream narratives on climate change. Milloy holds a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences and a master’s degree in biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University.  In April 2009, Milloy wrote an article for Canada Free Press accusing former Vice President Al Gore of lying to Congress about the extent to which he had received personal financial benefit from left-of-center climate change legislation. [20]

Greg Walcher is on the board of E&E Legal and also works as president of the environmental consulting firm Natural Resources Group. Walcher is also the author of Smoking Them Out: The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back, a book that advocates against environmentalist legislation. Walcher was also head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and president of Colorado-based Club 20, a group of local businessmen and tribal leaders that handles economic and policy issues in the region. [21]

Tom Tanton, director of science and technology assessment at E&E Legal, is also president of the energy consulting firm T2 & Associates. Tanton was formerly director of the Electric Power Research Institute and head policy advisor for the California Energy Commission. From 2003 to 2007, he worked as vice president of the Institute for Energy Research. [22]

References

  1. Goodman, Alana. “Memo Shows Secret Coordination Effort Against ExxonMobil by Climate Activists, Rockefeller Fund.” The Washington Free Beacon. April 14, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/issues/memo-shows-secret-coordination-effort-exxonmobil-climate-activists-rockefeller-fund/ ^
  2. Frontline. “Big Sky, Big Money.” PBS. October 29, 2012. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.pbs.org/video/frontline-big-sky-big-money/ ^
  3. Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Who We Are.” Eelegal.org. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/who-we-are/ ^
  4. State Policy Network. “EE Legal.” Spn.org Website. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://spn.org/organization/energy-environment-legal-institute/ ^
  5. “Legal.” E&E Legal, December 19, 2018. https://eelegal.org/strategic-litigation/. ^
  6. “Education.” E&E Legal, December 19, 2018. https://eelegal.org/education/. ^
  7. Climate Case Chart. “American Tradition Institute vs. Nasa.” ClimateCaseChart.com Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. http://climatecasechart.com/case/american-tradition-institute-v-nasa/ ^
  8. Climate Case Chart. “American Tradition Institute vs. Rector & Visitors of University of Virginia.” ClimateCaseChart.com Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. http://climatecasechart.com/case/american-tradition-institute-v-rector-visitors-of-university-of-virginia/ ^
  9. Climate Case Chart. “Energy and Environment Legal Institute vs. University of Arizona.” ClimateCaseChart.com Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. http://climatecasechart.com/case/energy-environment-legal-institute-v-university-of-arizona/ ^
  10. Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Press Release: E&E Legal Petitions SEC to Investigate False & Misleading Climate Change Statements.” Eelegal.org. August 13, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/press-release-ee-legal-petitions-sec-to-investigate-false-misleading-climate-change-statements/ ^
  11. Tanton, Thomas. “Cost of Electrification: A State-by-State Analysis.” Eelegal.org. October 2020. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/LCOE2-for-posting-9.17.2020.pdf ^
  12. Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Climate Change Common Interest Agreement.” Eelegal.org. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Climate-Change-CIA.pdf ^
  13. Goodman, Alana. “Memo Shows Secret Coordination Effort Against ExxonMobil by Climate Activists, Rockefeller Fund.” The Washington Free Beacon. April 14, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/issues/memo-shows-secret-coordination-effort-exxonmobil-climate-activists-rockefeller-fund/ ^
  14. Whitehouse, Sheldon. “The Fossil-Fuel Industry’s Campaign to Mislead the American People.” The Washington Post. May 29, 2015. Accessed March 1m 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-fossil-fuel-industrys-campaign-to-mislead-the-american-people/2015/05/29/04a2c448-0574-11e5-8bda-c7b4e9a8f7ac_story.html ^
  15. Leber, Rebecca. “Democrats Request a DOJ Investigation into ExxonMobil, Alleging Climate Science Coverup.” The New Republic. October 16, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2021.https://newrepublic.com/article/123137/democrats-request-doj-investigation-exxonmobil ^
  16. Horner, Chris. “Documents Illuminate AGs Politicized Climate Campaign Against Exxon.” Real Clear Energy. October 25, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2016/10/26/documents_illuminate_ags_politicalized_climate_campaign_against_exxon_110096.html ^
  17. New York Post. “Eric Schneiderman’s Pathetic New Pretext for Probing Exxon.” New York Post. August 21, 2016. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://nypost.com/2016/08/21/eric-schneidermans-pathetic-new-pretext-for-probing-exxon/ ^
  18. Stevens, Pippa. “Exxon Found Not Guilty in New York Climate-Change Securities Fraud Trial, Ending 4-year Saga.” CNBC. December 10, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/10/exxon-did-not-mislead-investors-a-new-york-judge-ruled-on-tuesday.html ^
  19. [1] Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Senior Leadership.” Eelegal.org. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/senior-leadership/ ^
  20. Milloy, Steve. “Gore Lies to Congress About Personal Finances.” Canada Free Press. April 26, 2009. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://canadafreepress.com/article/gore-lies-to-congress-about-personal-finances ^
  21. [1] Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Senior Leadership.” Eelegal.org. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/senior-leadership/ ^
  22. Energy and Environment Legal Institute. “Senior Leadership.” Eelegal.org. Undated. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://eelegal.org/senior-leadership/ ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2009

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Dec Form 990 $354,557 $494,855 $385,673 $2,224 N $351,000 $0 $3,557 $0 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $770,728 $669,312 $529,036 $5,289 N $767,378 $0 $2,850 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $529,365 $470,803 $435,194 $12,863 N $528,499 $0 $737 $119,800
    2015 Dec Form 990 $633,034 $402,222 $363,887 $118 N $602,700 $0 $84 $102,393 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $272,999 $167,525 $133,722 $765 N $270,649 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $119,862 $252,306 $27,483 $0 N $117,742 $2,120 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $553,953 $407,810 $160,420 $493 N $553,953 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $319,580 $422,148 $13,784 $0 N $304,530 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Energy and Environment Legal Institute

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