WSJ's Anti-EPA Opinion Section, Brought To You By The Fossil Fuel Industry

The Wall Street Journal's opinion page has been serving as a mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industry's attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which will set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Nearly every WSJ op-ed about the proposed rule since it was released on June 2, 2014 has been written by people with ties to the energy industry -- and every single one has attacked it.

Industry-Funded Pundit Baselessly Attacked Clean Power Plan In Recent WSJ Op-Ed

American Enterprise Institute Scholar Op-Ed Called Clean Power Plan A “Mess.” In an op-ed headlined, “The EPA's 'Clean Power' Mess,” American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar Benjamin Zycher attacked the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP) -- which will set the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from power plants -- for being “inflexible” and threatening the reliability of the power grid. His op-ed ignored the views of several grid experts who have praised the plan's flexibility, and the fact that climate change itself -- which the CPP will work to mitigate -- poses a far greater threat to grid reliability. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/8/15; Media Matters, 4/14/15; Center for American Progress, 5/15/15]

What WSJ Left Out: AEI Has Received Millions From Oil Industry Organizations And Front Groups. According to data compiled by Conservative Transparency, a project of American Bridge, AEI has received over $3 million from ExxonMobil and nearly $19 million from Donors Capital Fund, a partner organization of DonorsTrust, which gets funding from the David Koch-led Americans for Prosperity Foundation. [, accessed 6/8/15; Media Matters, 2/3/15]

Nearly Every Previous WSJ Op-Ed On Clean Power Plan Was Authored By Utility Executives, Lawyers Connected To Fossil Fuel Industry, Or Industry-Supported Members Of Congress -- And All Criticized It

Utility Executive Director Called On States To “Boycott” The Clean Power Plan. On April 22, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed headlined, “Why States Should Boycott the Federal Clean Power Plan.” In it, Kenneth C. Hill, the director of the electric utility agency Tennessee Regulatory Authority, praised Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for advising states to “not comply” with the Clean Power Plan. Hill also serves on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) subcommittee for “Clean Coal and Carbon Sequestration.” The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/15; Tennessee Regulatory Authority, accessed 6/8/15]

Electric Utility CEO Falsely Warned That EPA Plan “Jeopardizes” Grid Reliability. On April 14, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Warner Baxter, the chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Corporation, that falsely warned that the proposed rule “threatens to jeopardize the reliability” of the electric grid. Ameren Corp. is a major electric utility that serves Missouri and Illinois. In 2013, it received 77 percent of its energy from coal-fired power plants. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/14/15; Media Matters, 4/14/15;, accessed 6/8/15; Associated Press, 10/1/14]

Laurence Tribe Called Plan “Unconstitutional” While Representing Coal Industry. On December 23, 2014, lawyer Laurence Tribe authored a WSJ op-ed that called the Clean Power Plan “unconstitutional.” At the time, Tribe was on retainer for coal industry giant Peabody Energy to provide an “independent analysis” of the plan's legality -- a fact The Wall Street Journal acknowledged. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/14]

  • Following publication of Tribe's op-ed, The Journal published a response from the EPA -- which defended the agency's jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act -- but relegated it to the letters section. [The Wall Street Journal, 1/4/15]

Rep. Kevin Cramer, Who Claimed Plan Would Cause Blackouts, Received Big Money From Oil And Gas Interests. Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) penned an op-ed for the WSJ on December 10 that warned the EPA plan might “disrupt[] the future reliability of the grid.” The Wall Street Journal noted that Cramer was previously a public service commissioner in North Dakota, where he regulated the electrical utilities industry. What The Journal didn't note, however, is that Cramer received $432,400 from the oil and gas industry, including $230,250 in campaign contributions during the 2014 election cycle alone. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/10/14; Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 6/8/15]

Pro-Industry Lawyers Questioned Clean Power Plan's Legality. An op-ed by attorneys Brian H. Potts and David R. Zoppo endorsed Murray Energy's lawsuit against the EPA Clean Power Plan and asked, “Does the EPA actually have the legal authority to issue its Clean Power Plan?” The website of law firm Foley & Lardner LLP says Potts has “been involved in successfully siting more than two billion dollars worth of utility infrastructure,” and has “helped obtain the necessary regulatory approvals to build/modify various coal, natural gas and hydro-electric power plants.” Potts has published several op-eds in The Wall Street Journal attacking various EPA rules, including the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the agency's smog protections. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/1/14; Foley & Lardner, accessed 6/8/15; The Wall Street Journal, 12/20/13; The Wall Street Journal, 3/23/15]

Rep. Mike Kelly Wrote Op-Ed Attacking CPP During Election Cycle While Receiving Industry Donations. Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) penned an August 3 op-ed supporting a lawsuit led by attorneys general in coal-producing states aimed at blocking the Clean Power Plan. Kelly's op-ed was published during the 2014 election cycle, during which he received $89,850 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. [The Wall Street Journal, 8/3/14; Media Matters, 5/11/15; Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 6/8/15]

Oil And Gas-Funded Rep. Lamar Smith Attacked “Secret Science” Behind EPA Rule. On June 23, 2014, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) titled, “What Is the EPA Hiding From the Public?” In the piece, Smith promoted his Secret Science Reform Act and suggested that the EPA uses biased research to support its regulations. Smith received $94,550 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry during the 2014 election cycle, bringing his career total to $610,397. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/23/14; Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 6/8/15]

METHODOLOGY: This item is based on a Factiva search of The Wall Street Journal for the term “Clean Power Plan” since June 1, 2014, when the proposed rule was released. During this time period, The Wall Street Journal published one other op-ed about the Clean Power Plan from Edwin D. Hill, then president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which represents “750,000 members in utilities, construction, railroads, manufacturing, broadcasting, telecommunications and government.” [The Wall Street Journal, 8/15/14]