John Kerry’s office consulted with far-left eco-groups on policy, banning fossil fuel investments: emails

FIRST ON FOX: Internal communications from the Biden administration, obtained by Fox News Digital, showed that the State Department has been consulting with environmental groups on policies including a possible ban on coal investments.

The office of the President’s Special Envoy for Climate Change (SPEC) John Kerry exchanged emails with green groups last fall to schedule off-paper meetings on key policy issues, according to documents released by the state watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) and shared with Fox News Digital. The documents showed communications with Jesse Young, a senior political adviser in Kerry’s office.

First and foremost, the Sierra Club, a large environmental group campaigning for an aggressive transition away from fossil fuels, requested a meeting with Young to discuss a ban on coal investments. The exchange took place in September 2021 ahead of the annual United Nations (UN) climate conference, which was attended by Kerry, President Biden and other senior US officials.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about possible next steps on the agenda to end investment in new coal, especially after the China announcement,” Steve Herz, a senior counsel for the Sierra Club and advisor on international climate policy, wrote to Young. “Do you have 20 minutes in the next few days?”

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A senior Sierra Club attorney is coordinating a meeting with John Kerry's office to discuss a US coal investment ban.

A senior Sierra Club attorney is coordinating a meeting with John Kerry’s office to discuss a US coal investment ban.
(Protect public trust)

While Young responded that he was not the head of policy related to China or coal investment, he shared the contact information of others in the SPEC office who could be a better resource for Herz.

“I also understand that you’re not the China/Koal type,” Herz replied. “I wasn’t thinking about China per se, but rather the prospect of responding to China’s announcement with US regulation of private international coal financing.”

“I think Biden has executive authority to take a number of steps to end [new coal financing]starting with preventing funding from US banks,” he added.

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Young then asked if the Treasury Department had the authority to take such an action. Herz responded that Biden has the authority to initiate the action, the Treasury Department can execute the action, and there will also be a “diplomatic component.”

President Biden appointed Kerry to the first-ever SPEC, a Cabinet-level position tasked with participating in climate negotiations with foreign nations, shortly after taking office in January 2021.  Kerry's office is located at the State Department and has an estimated $13.9 million per year budget with permits for 45 employees.

President Biden appointed Kerry to the first-ever SPEC, a Cabinet-level position tasked with participating in climate negotiations with foreign nations, shortly after taking office in January 2021. Kerry’s office is located at the State Department and has an estimated $13.9 million per year budget with permits for 45 employees.
(Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Additionally, a few months later, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) contacted Young to set up an “ambition accelerator” meeting with several environmental groups pushing green transition policies.

“We are fully aware [REDACTED] The schedule is insane but we would appreciate a bit of time to discuss as we consider this to be one of the most important policy outcomes… we have to land this week,” Brendan Guy, NRDC’s director of international programming, wrote to Young on March 8 November 2021 amid the UN Climate Change Conference.

Guy suggested for the meeting to include leaders from NRDC, World Resources Institute (WRI), E3G and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Guy confirmed availability for later in the week in the latest email included in documents received by PPT.

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The emails showing policy coordination with the Sierra Club and NRDC are the latest evidence that Kerry’s office has been communicating with far-left green groups on such issues.

Separate email dumps obtained by PPT in August and September and shared with Fox News Digital showed that the SPEC bureau consulted with environmental groups on several other occasions. In some cases, environmental groups even appeared to act as facilitators in certain international climate discussions involving Kerry’s office.

However, internal communications have revealed no similar meetings or discussions with fossil fuel industry stakeholders.

NRDC's Brendan Guy is coordinating a meeting with John Kerry's climate office at the State Department in November 2021.

NRDC’s Brendan Guy is coordinating a meeting with John Kerry’s climate office at the State Department in November 2021.
(Protect public trust)

“One of the fundamental elements of America’s constitutional system of government is that the public has a say in how it is governed,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told FOX News Digital. “In the executive branch, that is expressed through officials appointed by the president.”

“Every set of documents PPT has obtained from the State Department reveals the blurring lines between the presidential appointees who are said to be working for the American public and powerful special interests who work for unknown billionaires and, in some cases, have questionable ties to the Chinese government “, he continued. “The more we learn, the more questions we have about whether politics are being outsourced from John Kerry’s office to special interests with an agenda that could fuel America’s energy and inflation crises.”

Republican lawmakers have also raised concerns about the documents and communications showing coordination with green groups.

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“The American people need to know that administration officials have our own nation’s interests in mind,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, told Fox News Digital in a statement Monday. “It’s clear that John Kerry is pushing the agenda of left interest groups.”

“The last thing we need is to stall investment in proven energy sources in the middle of an energy crisis,” he continued. “That’s exactly what Kerry is trying to do. He should clarify his relationship with these groups and explain how they influenced his destructive policies.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told Fox News Digital that this is the case "clear that John Kerry is pushing the agenda of left interest groups."

Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told Fox News Digital it was “clear that John Kerry is pushing the agenda of leftist interest groups.”
(Fox News)

And GOP leaders on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee have announced two separate congressional probes into Kerry’s office in response to Fox News Digital’s earlier reports.

Axios reported last week that Kerry was considering stepping down from his post soon to avoid Congressional scrutiny should Republicans regain control of the House. However, Kerry vehemently denied the reports.

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“The State Department regularly responds to requests for informational briefings from non-governmental advocacy groups,” a State Department spokesman told Fox News Digital in an email.

“Ahead of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), the Office of the President’s Special Envoy on Climate provided responsive briefings to a wide range of US stakeholders, including religious and faith leaders, state and local Governments, tribal leaders, youth organizations, environmental organizations and US corporate and trade associations,” they continued.

The spokesman noted that Kerry made comments earlier this year at CERAWeek, a major energy industry conference, when asked if the SPEC bureau had consulted with fossil fuel groups.

President Biden appointed Kerry to the first-ever SPEC, a Cabinet-level position tasked with participating in climate negotiations with foreign nations, shortly after taking office in January 2021. Kerry’s office is located at the State Department and has an estimated $13.9 million per year budget with permits for 45 employees.

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But ever since Kerry’s appointment, which required no Senate approval and gave him a seat on the National Security Council, his office has been tight-lipped about its staff and operations. A review by Fox News Digital of online career portals in August identified several current SPEC staff, all of whom had previously worked in left-wing think tanks and organizations such as NRDC and WRI.

Additional emails Fox News Digital received via PPT in August showed officials at Kerry’s office were discussing plans to be safe high-level discussions “on paper”. The office also redacted the names of all State Department officials who were either directly or indirectly included in the email dump.

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