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House Committee Investigates John Kerry’s Links with Environmental Groups Advocating for Coal Power Shutdown

House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer is investigating the State Department’s collaboration with environmental groups on global coal power policies. This probe focuses on Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s office and its interactions with groups like the NRDC.

Letter to Secretary Blinken

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In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Comer disclosed that his committee found emails showing extensive communication between Kerry’s office and environmental groups. These emails discussed opposition plans against coal power.

U.S. Joins Powering Past Coal Alliance

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The discussions included the U.S. joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a decision formally announced in December. Kerry advocated for phasing out unabated coal to achieve carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.

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Comer’s Concerns Over Foreign Influence

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Comer expressed concern in his letter about the influence of nongovernmental organizations on U.S. foreign policy. He specifically mentioned the NRDC’s significant operations in China and potential coordination with foreign actors.

The Role of Coal in U.S. Energy

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Despite the push against coal power, it remains a significant energy source in the U.S. In 2022, coal accounted for 20% of total U.S. electricity generation.

Allegations of State Department Collaboration

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Comer accused the State Department of allowing environmental groups to influence U.S. foreign policy. He raised concerns about the potential sharing of confidential information with these groups.

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Kerry’s Actions Under Scrutiny

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Comer criticized Kerry and the Biden Administration for actions he perceives as undermining economic health and foreign policy priorities. He emphasized the lack of congressional scrutiny in these decisions.

NRDC’s Guidance to State Department

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In a 2021 exchange, State Department officials sought guidance from the NRDC on joining the PPCA. The NRDC connected the department with another environmental group, E3G, to assist in this effort.

Environmental Groups Support U.S. Joining PPCA

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Multiple environmental groups, including the NRDC and Sierra Club, supported the U.S. joining the PPCA. They believed it aligned with President Biden’s goal to decarbonize the U.S. power grid.

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Concerns Over Information Exchange

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Comer’s letter raised questions about the information exchanged between Kerry’s office and organizations like the NRDC. He worried about the potential for this information to reach foreign governments.

Request for Documents and Briefing

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Comer requested documents and communications related to the decision to join the PPCA. He set a deadline of Jan. 19 for submission and requested a staff-level briefing.

State Department’s Response Pending

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As of now, the State Department, NRDC, and PPCA have not responded to requests for comment on this matter. Requests for comment on this matter have gone unanswered.

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Comer’s Previous Probes into Kerry’s Office

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This investigation is part of Comer’s broader oversight into Kerry’s role and actions in global climate negotiations. Previously, Comer probed Kerry’s negotiations with China and demanded transparency from his office.

Kerry’s Global Climate Role

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Since his appointment, Kerry has been a key figure in the Biden administration’s global climate strategy. However, his office’s lack of transparency has been a point of contention, particularly among Republican lawmakers.

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