ALEC Continues Attack on Renewable Energy Policies to Keep America Addicted to Fossil Fuels
Let’s talk about the real obstacle to fighting climate change in America: ALEC. Today, ALEC—the American Legislative Exchange Council—kicks off its annual meeting in Dallas, TX. The group, which has already brought America such favorites as stand-your-ground-shoot-first laws and voter suppression ID laws, now has its sights set on preventing clean energy policies from spreading across the U.S.
ALEC gets a lot of its funding from Big Oil and utility corporations, so it’s only natural that it would be working feverishly to craft "model legislation" that continues America’s toxic—and deadly—addiction to fossil fuels. Over the past decade alone, ALEC has received more than $500,000 from Big Oil-friendly Koch Brothers-backed foundations, and millions more from Big Oil giants like ExxonMobil.
Chris Taylor, a Democratic lawmaker from Wisconsin who snuck into ALEC’s annual meeting in Chicago last year, said, “A part of ALEC’s battle is to preserve an old economy, where coal, oil and gas remain supreme. Their defense of these industries represents the will of corporate members.”
And Nick Surgey, research director for the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, told Think Progress that, “According to the meeting agenda, legislators will be schooled on how industry wants them to talk about climate change.” He went on to say that there will be a heavy focus on the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations, and that corporate lobbyists from ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries will be crafting model legislation that opposes limiting carbon emissions from coal plants.
Conference goers will hear from climate-change-denying all-stars like Texas Governor Rick Perry, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, and former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. They’ll also be getting a copy of the most recent “report” from the NIPCC—the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. The NIPCC is funded by the Heartland Institute, one of the major players in climate change denial, and a group which has compared people who believe in climate change to the Unabomber.
ALEC’s push to protect Big Oil interests and to sabotage clean energy policies isn’t something new. It’s been a major goal of the secretive organization for a while now. According to documents obtained by The Guardian, last year alone, ALEC pushed 70 bills in 37 states that would have hurt clean energy growth and development.
ALEC-crafted legislation has also played a major role in the battles between solar power customers and utility companies in Arizona over the past year, and also led to a Republican state lawmaker in Kansas being kicked out of that state’s Chamber of Commerce because he opposed ALEC-backed legislation that was intended to weaken Kansas’ renewable energy standards.
ALEC is also behind bills in several states that would require schools to teach climate change denial as part of their curriculum. In January of last year alone, ALEC successfully got its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” into the Colorado, Arizona and Oklahoma state legislatures. And some states, like Louisiana, have already adopted similar versions of that legislation.
While ALEC has been around for nearly 40 years, recent Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United have put the group's ability to influence or essentially own Republican lawmakers on steroids. Thanks to the Supreme Court-created ideas that "money is speech" and "corporations are people," ALEC has gained tremendous power, and it’s using that power to sabotage us and the only planet we can call home.
The conservative lawmakers and corporate shills who make up ALEC are the very people keeping us from developing the clean and green energy policies that are essential for the survival of our planet and the human race. As Dale Eisman, director of communications for Common Cause, put it, “Whatever the issue—labor, schools, climate or energy—they [ALEC] are drafting bills to advance corporate interests that don’t necessarily coincide with the public interest.”
If want to have any chance of saving the human race from the greatest threat it has ever faced, then we need to start putting public interests ahead of corporate interests, and the only way we can do that is by getting money out of politics. We need to amend the Constitution, to say that money is not speech, and that corporations are not people. The future of our planet depends on it. Go to movetoamend.org to learn all about it.
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By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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