IN 2018, a new group appeared seemingly out of nowhere and immediately took aim at the recent wave of lawsuits filed by state attorneys general designed to hold major fossil fuel companies responsible for allegedly misleading investors and customers about the true risk of carbon pollution.
“The global warming lobby has gone too far this time,” declared the innocuously named group, Government Accountability and Oversight, in a video posted on its website. GAO claimed that the lawsuits, which target Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, and Chevron, among other corporations, represent a form of government overreach and that prosecutors are colluding with activist interest groups in an unethical manner.
GAO, which is run as a for-profit company and foundation, does not disclose its donors nor does it provide much information about its origins. But on Saturday, a bankruptcy court in southern Ohio released a filing revealing that the organization received three donations totaling $300,000 from Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal-mining company in the United States. The first payment was made on June 7, 2018, just one month after GAO announced its intention to “expose” the litigation effort against energy companies.
That a secretive group working to defend the fossil fuel industry is financed by Murray Energy may come as no surprise.