"NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Four environmental organizations on Wednesday asked the Tennessee Valley Authority’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the nation’s largest public utility misused ratepayer money for lobbying and litigation that fought federal environmental regulations.
The request to the TVA’s Office of Inspector General comes after the Energy and Policy Institute, an activist group, released more than 500 pages of records it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents prove TVA’s dues to the now-disbanded Utility Air Regulatory Group were used for unauthorized activities, the group said. They point to expense reports showing most of UARG’s money went to a law firm. In lawsuits, the UARG frequently argued against tighter air pollution and climate regulations.
TVA CEO Jeff Lyash told Congress in a 2019 letter that the utility had contributed $7.3 million to the Utility Air Regulatory Group since 2001. Lyash said the funds were not used to lobby or sue on behalf of TVA, which would require explicit board approval. Instead, TVA used its membership in the regulatory group “to help understand, plan for, and comply with highly technical and complex regulations developed” under the Clean Air Act, Lyash wrote."