Documents: TVA used $ 3M in taxpayer money to fund clean energy efforts
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee– Four nonprofits today called for a federal investigation into newly uncovered documents showing the Tennessee Valley Authority used $ 3 million of taxpayer dollars to fund litigation and lobbying efforts by organizations that fight EPA Clean Air Act rules. TVA is the largest public energy supplier in the United States.
Today’s letter from Energy Alabama, the Center for Biological Diversity, Appalachian Voices and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy urged the VAT Inspector General’s office to open a formal investigation to determine if the utility has violated its policies approved by the board of directors.
Documents recently obtained in connection with a request under the Access to Information Act show that between 2015 and 2018, TVA staff spent more than $ 3 million in customer money on fees for the Utilities Aviation Regulatory Group. UARG is known for lobbying against science-based air pollution and climate regulation.
“Customers across the Tennessee Valley have been forced to pay for one branch of the federal government to take legal action against another branch of the federal government,” said Daniel Tait, chief operating officer of Energy Alabama. “This is stupid and TVA would be better served by investing in carbon-free technologies like energy efficiency and renewable energies.”
“Rather than leading the way in cleaning up the energy sector, TVA funds outside organizations that actively fight against the transition to renewable energies,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, energy justice activist for the Energy program. Justice of the Center. “We call on the inspector general of TVA to ensure that the country’s largest public energy supplier stops abusing taxpayer funds in this way.
Last year, Energy Alabama, the Center, Appalachian Voices and others demanded that TVA stop giving millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to the same groups involved here. The regulatory petition clarifies that TVA is violating the First Amendment rights of its customers by forcing them to fund this work against the interests of Tennessee Valley communities. But this flow of funding continues.
“Workers who cleaned up the Kingston spill in 2008 are still suffering and dying from exposure to the toxic coal ash from TVA,” said Bri Knisley, Tennessee campaign coordinator at Appalachian Voices. “It is a shame that after more than a decade of this suffering, TVA has chosen to spend more than $ 3 million of taxpayer dollars to fund a group that fights against policies that protect our clean air and health public.
“When the people of the Tennessee Valley pay their electric bills, they don’t expect the utility to use their money to fight environmental regulations. And yet that’s what TVA did, ”said Maggie Shober, Southern Alliance director of utilities reform for Clean Energy. “This is a violation of the regulatory pact that allows utilities their monopoly. Without the ability to switch to another supplier, TVA customers are forced to pay for this unethical use of funds. even more blatant given that TVA is part of the very federal government it is lobbying or advocating against. “
TVA CEO and Chairman Jeff J. Lyash said last month that he plans to decarbonize TVA by 2050, but he did not explain how TVA would achieve this non-binding target. Like other large utilities, TVA still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Even with this new goal, the utility plans to continue building new fractured gas plants, relying on bogus solutions that will worsen climate injustice in the Tennessee Valley.