Coal company’s dark money donations revealed

Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in the United States with major operations in Pennsylvania, funded various pro-coal and climate change denial groups that helped Republicans gain control of Congress in last year’s election, according to The Intercept.

The Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month. The bankruptcy documents, reviewed by The Intercept, listed organizations it had financial transactions with, many of which were nonprofits that are not required to report donor information.

From The Intercept:

The corporation helped fund the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a secretive nonprofit group that refused to disclose any donor information during the election last year. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition was the largest outside campaign entity in the Kentucky senate race, spending over $14 million on television and radio commercials to successfully re-elect Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his campaign against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Alpha Natural Resources also helped finance campaign entities associated with the Koch brothers campaign network, including Americans for Prosperity, Themis Trust (a campaign data company), and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a clearinghouse used to fund a range of organizations supporting Republican election efforts. The Institute for Energy Research, an advocacy group founded by Charles Koch that lobbies in support of fossil fuel subsidies and against renewable energy policies, had a financial relationship with Alpha Natural Resources.

The filing also showed that Alpha gave money to the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC), a right-wing lobbying group that crafts template bills for state lawmakers.

ALEC recently produced template legislation to block states from submitting compliance plans with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, new regulations designed to combat carbon emissions.

Other groups and individuals Alpha gave money to include the Heartland Institute, a think tank in Illinois that promotes climate change denial and Christopher Horner, an attorney who has said the earth is cooling.

An Alpha spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from the news outlet.

Reach Natasha Khan at nkhan@publicsource.org or 412-315-0261. Follow her on Twitter @khantasha.