Chicago shares lobbyist with BP, whom it’s suing

June 25, 2024

The City of Chicago shares lobbyist Bill Filan with British Petroleum, one of six fossil fuel companies the city is suing for deceiving Chicago consumers about the climate dangers associated with their products, according to research by F Minus. The city’s pension fund shares the lobbying firm of Phelps Barry & Associates with Phillips 66, another company named in the suit. Phelps Barry also represents the University of Illinois, which has come under increasing pressure to divest from fossil fuels. 

“Fossil fuel companies are to blame for the extreme heat, flooding, dirty air, and other climate impacts that Chicagoans have been suffering,” said James Browning, Executive Director of F Minus. “But the city and its pension fund are being hypocritical when they sue the fossil fuel industry while funneling taxpayers dollars into the pockets of fossil fuel lobbyists.”

A total of 71 Illinois lobbyists simultaneously represented fossil fuel companies and clients being negatively impacted by the climate crisis, according to F Minus research from Dec. 2023. Phelps Barry lobbied on behalf of five fossil fuel clients overall, including Knight Hawk Coal and the coal-fired Prairie State Generating Station, which was one of the country’s top polluters in 2023. Exposure to coal plant pollution and coal ash has been linked to health problems such as asthma, heart attacks, and cancer; and yet Phelps Barry also represents nine health care clients including the Illinois Health & Hospital Association.

The Illinois Environmental Council, which warns against the ecological impacts of fracking for gas, shares lobbyist Christopher Dunn with Calpine, the largest operator of gas-fired power plants in the country.

F Minus also criticized Illinois’s lobbyist disclosure system for failing to require disclosure of lobbyists’ salaries. “Illinois has a backwards disclosure system in which lobbyists file a lot of reports about nothing,” Browning continued. “Every two weeks they’re required to report minor expenditures like meals, but they never have to disclose their salaries, which comprise the bulk of spending by fossil fuel companies and other interests.”

The complete F Minus list of Illinois’s fossil fuel lobbyists is available here.

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