The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nominee for President Biden previously participated in a dark money-funded campaign to bring multiple climate nuisance cases across the nation.
Former professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles and co-director of the Emmett Center on Climate Change & the Environment, Ann Carlson is currently serving as acting NHTSA administrator. She worked with the institute’s chairman Dan Emmett while there to seek funds for legal actions intended to cripple the fossil fuel sector.
Email exchanges between Carlson and Emmett from 2017 and 2018 were obtained by the watchdog organization Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) and featured in a Fox News Digital report last year. In these emails, Carlson and Emmett discussed their behind-the-scenes efforts to lead the litigation. The two collaborated to generate money, which was then distributed to the private law firm Sher Edling by nonprofit corporations.
In their emails, Carlson and Emmett talk about how Chuck Savitt, Sher Edling’s director of strategic client relationships, had enlisted Emmett’s assistance and had already gotten it from Terry Tamminen in his capacity as the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a position he held from 2016 to 2019. Tamminen currently sits on the Emmett Institute’s advisory board for climate change and the environment.
Emmett wrote to Carlson on July 22, 2017, saying, “Chuck Savitt, who is leading this new entity behind the cases, has been soliciting our cooperation.” Terry Tamminen has been a crucial supporter in his new position with the DiCaprio Foundation.
Also, Emmett provided a letter Savitt had given him on July 19, 2017, begging for his help. Savitt said in the earlier email that the Collective Action Fund for Responsibility, Resilience and Adaptation, which was being run at the time by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund, had provided funding for Sher Edling’s initial legal actions (RLF).
Savitt wrote to Emmett in the email, “Wanted to let you know that we filed the first three lawsuits backed by the Collective Action Fund on Monday.” As a result of their greenhouse gas emissions, 37 of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world are being urged by these precedent-setting cases to accept responsibility for the disastrous effects sea level rise is having on coastal communities.
A reference of Savitt was removed from Sher Edling’s website two days after Fox News Digital published the first article on the emails in August.
Wanting to let you know that on Monday, we filed the first three lawsuits funded by the Collective Action Fund, Savitt wrote to Emmett. These precedent-setting cases demand that 37 of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world accept responsibility for the catastrophic harm that sea level rise—which is a result of their greenhouse gas emissions—is causing to coastal communities.
Two days after Fox News Digital published the first report on the emails in August, Sher Edling removed any reference of Savitt from its website.
The proposal was approved by Emmett, who also said that she could inform people that “Terry’s group and I are both serious advocates, that you are an advisor, that the science is there, and that it could do more for the environment than just about everything going on if it succeeds.”
Since 2017, the Collective Action Fund has received contributions from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Emmett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the JPB Foundation. According to the organization’s tax returns from that time period, the RLF in turn gave Sher Edling more than $5.2 million.
Additional tax filings revealed that RLF’s fiscal sponsorship of the Collective Action Fund was then covertly transferred to the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit incubator at the billion-dollar dark money network run by the consulting firm Arabella Advisors, which wired $3 million to Sher Edling in 2021 alone.
Sher Edling has brought legal actions on behalf of the states of Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, as well as the cities of Washington, D.C., New York City, Baltimore, Honolulu, and San Francisco, as well as numerous other cities and counties across the country. According to the claims, fossil fuel companies have long engaged in deceptive marketing regarding the science behind climate change.
According to Chris Horner, an attorney who defended GAO in a dispute involving the emails, “obviously, the contributors created — including DiCaprio — multiple supposed arms’ lengths,” according to Fox News Digital in August.
Horner continued, “This approach used a few pass-throughs, by which DiCaprio and, it seems, Dan Emmett and others could administer entities, including DiCaprio’s foundation and His Legacy Fund, and they’re not regarded as funding the assault.”
The nomination of Carlson as NHTSA administrator was forwarded to the Senate on Monday, according to a White House announcement. In response to a request for comment, the NHTSA took some time to react.