A coalition of environmental groups alleges the Tennessee Valley Authority provided millions of dollars in dues to a trade group resistant to air-pollution control measures.
TVA officials say the utility's membership in the Utility Air Regulatory Group was a way to help it navigate the complexities of federal pollution regulations, but documents obtained by the clean-air coalition via a Freedom of Information Act request show the now-disbanded trade group spent $3.5 million on legal fees between 2015 and July 2018. TVA CEO Jeff Lyash told Congress in 2019 the utility had paid UARG $7.3 million since 2001.
The committee that approved the legal expenses was co-chaired at the time by a senior TVA manager, and in lawsuits, "the UARG frequently argued against tighter air pollution and climate regulations," according to the AP.
The Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy was among the environmental groups calling for a review of TVA's relationship with the UARG and other trade groups.
(SACE executive director Stephen Smith is a member of the board of Foundation for Global Sustainability. Hellbender Press is a self-supporting project of FGS).