My former John Locke Foundation colleague David Bass (also an AmSpec contributor) has another great story up today about how lawyers for the North Carolina Department of Justice, which sued the Tennessee Valley Authority in a “nuisance” lawsuit (they couldn’t come up with anything better) over pollution from coal-fired power plants drifting into the NC mountains, did not look fondly on evidence that wouldn’t help their case. It turns out that the state’s Division of Air Quality was ready to release a report that showed a dubious connection between nitrogen oxide (spewed by the plants) and the actual pollution that forms particulate matter. The timeline David put together makes it look like DOJ had a role in nixing the report:
DAQ staff decided to abandon the report shortly after meeting with Cooper’s attorneys in September 2008.
The air quality official responsible for the document, however, says the attorneys never pressured her to drop it.
“They never once told me you all can’t do this,” Laura Boothe, attainment planning branch supervisor for DAQ, told Carolina Journal.
But e-mail correspondence suggests that Cooper’s team was concerned about the report’s potential impact on the TVA case. After being informed of DAQ’s findings, special Deputy Attorney General Marc Bernstein wrote in an e-mail dated March 17, 2008, that it “hopefully … won’t create any issues in TVA. … ”
Six months later, DAQ staff met with Bernstein to discuss a final draft of the report. Shortly afterward, DAQ declared the project “officially dead.”
An example of the great investigative reporting being increasingly produced by several conservative/libertarian think tanks across the country. David’s previous story told how Washington lawyers hired by NC DOJ to press the TVA case lived exquisitely on the state taxpayers’ dime. Grandstanding attorney generals wedded to environmental extremist groups and bedding high-powered DC lawyers on the side — lots of fodder for scrutiny there.