Peabody Energy and ALEC helping legislators help themselves to corporate money

by Jason Schwartz

March 5, 2014

A drag line moves overburden during operations at the Caballo Mine outside of Wright in the Powder River Basin. Peabody Energy says its mine began production in 1978. and shipped 24.2 million tons of coal in 2011. Coal is mined from the Smith and Wyodak-Anderson seams and averages about 68 feet in thickness; overburden is about 230-feet thick.

© Greenpeace / Tim Aubry

In a post over at the blog PRWatch,Nick Surgey discusses an internal Peabody Energy document received by the Center for Media and Democracy. In it, Peabody instructs legislators on ways to get as much cash as possible from corporate sponsors to attend ALEC conferences and events.

The document outlines how legislators can tap into ALEC’s $600,000 “scholarship fund” to pay their way to go hobnobbing and cavorting with ALEC member companies like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and Peabody Energy. It was originally part of a presentation given by a Peabody lobbyist.

Peabody is a long-time member of ALEC and a frequent presenter and participant in its closed-door events. It is also the largest private sector coal company in the world and was described in aNewsweekreport as “the worst of the worst” polluters among all companies in the world.

Legislators are encouraged to work with ALEC “state chairs” to maximize the money they receive. As Nick says:

ALEC’s misnamed “scholarship” fund provides a mechanism for corporate lobbyists to make hidden gifts of travel related expenses to ALEC legislators. The state chairs, legislator, and lobbyist work together to solicit contributions to the fund from other corporate lobbyists, which is then used to pay for legislators’ travel expenses to attend ALEC conferences…

…ALEC state chairs are sent detailed spreadsheets noting which corporations have paid into the fund, leaving legislators in no doubt as to who is paying for their trips, but leaving their constituents in the dark.

We highly recommend you go over and check Nick’s post out for yourself.The original Peabody document is also available there.

In the photo:The Caballo Mine, run by Peabody

Jason Schwartz

By Jason Schwartz

Jason Schwartz is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based in New York City.

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