ALEC Gives Congressional Climate Deniers Their 2015 Marching Orders
If secretive rightwing lobbying group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has its way, the U.S. will become a cesspool of pollution, helping to hasten global climate change rather than address it. With complete Republican control of Congress and the party's tighter grip on state legislatures nationwide, the fossil fuel-dominated group can expect its member legislators—overwhelmingly Republican and in some cases a majority of the state legislature—to dutifully introduce and rubber-stamp its prepared legislation.
Today it opened its three-day 2015 States and National Policy Summit in Washington D.C. unveiling an agenda that would set U.S. environmental progress back decades while lining the pockets of its major funders such as Charles and David Koch of the fossil fuel-based Koch Industries, the world's largest private-sector coal company Peabody Energy and oil companies like Chevron and Exxon. While becoming something of a hot potato for modern technology and Internet companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Yelp! and Google, which have all dropped their memberships, and a lightning rod for progressive activism, ALEC's new majority in Congress gives it the power to potentially ride roughshod over public opinion and the general welfare.
In DC this week, it's telling its member legislators how to do that, although given its penchant for secrecy, we don't know the full range of what it's proposing, according to environmental advocates who joined a tele-press conference this afternoon to talk about what they are doing to monitor and expose ALEC's activities.
They revealed that among the so-called "model bills" ALEC has in the pipeline are proposals to completely eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and turn its duties and powers over to state agencies, block President Obama's proposed rules to limit carbon pollution from power plants, expand offshore oil drilling, weaken protections from smog and other air pollutants, and roll back protections for endangered specials.
“The goal is to clearly block any action whatsoever on climate change," said David Goldston, head of government affairs for participating group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "It’s not to shape action on climate change.”
Aliya Haq from the NRDC said on the call, "Based on the conference agenda, ALEC's new motto should be 'limited government, unlimited pollution.' Over the past several years, ALEC has promoted the work of extreme climate denial organizations and individuals such as the Heartland Institute and passed model legislation to mandate the teaching of climate denial in classrooms. At this week’s conference, ALEC’s Energy Task Force will discuss model bills to abolish the EPA and limit the EPA’s authority to establish nationwide carbon pollution standards. The EPA is directly in ALEC’s crosshairs."
Encouragingly, she said that proposal has no chance of success. But she added that it shows ALEC's trend toward ever more extreme environmental proposals and that its attempts to block EPA carbon rules have more legs. She pointed out that in 2014, nearly 20 states adopted ALEC-promoted resolutions to oppose the EPA standards before they were even proposed. She also mentioned two pieces of legislation the group will unveil this week to "politicize pollution reduction," creating so many new regulations and procedures that implementing carbon reduction would be close to impossible.
"ALEC’s ultimate goal here in to block an action on climate change," said Haq. "We're all watching ALEC's every move."
"Most corporate groups have evolved, but ALEC has not evolved," he said. "They're using exact same language they were in 1998. ALEC has doubled down. This meeting shows a top-heavy fossil fuel agenda—everything good for Peabody, Exxon, Chevron, Koch Industries, nothing good for climate."
Gabe Elsner from the Energy and Policy Institute said to expect to see a ramping-up of anti-environmental policies on the state as well as the federal level through ALEC's State Policy Network.
"These s0-called free market organizations influencing state-level policies, many are funded by fossil fuel interests that are part of ALEC," he said. "On the anti-renewable energy bills introduced in 15 states, these groups were behind them."
At its meeting this week in DC where it will issue its marching orders to its Congressional members, it will offer a briefing from Rick Berman, a rightwing strategist who specializes in sabotaging initiatives such as anti-smoking laws and healthy food regulations using "astroturf" groups—industry-created groups posing as grassroots groups—and personal attacks on opponents. In October, the New York Times exposed a meeting Berman had with representatives of oil and gas companies to attack environmental groups like Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch and the Natural Resources Defense Council through the "Big Green Radicals" campaign of personal smears.
Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy emphasized ALEC's longstanding penchant for secrecy and the work of groups like his and the others to expose ALEC's activities to public scrutiny.
"There's limited information about their agenda [for this week's meetings] on their website. We read between the lines." He pointed callers to his group's website, alecexposed.org, warning "It's not complete because ALEC keeps information about its funders and members secret."
As The Guardian of London noted in its story about the DC meetings this week, "Alec does not generally welcome media coverage of its activities. The group rejected The Guardian’s request to attend this week’s meeting."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- 29 Wildfires Blaze Across the West, Fueled by Drought and Wind ... ›
- Large Wildfires Scorch Forests in Drought-Stricken Southwest ... ›
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. mixetto / E+ / Getty Images
Accessibility to quality health care has dropped for millions of Americans who lost their health insurance due to unemployment. New research has found that 5.4 million Americans were dropped from their insurance between February and May of this year. In that three-month stretch more Americans lost their coverage than have lost coverage in any entire year, according to The New York Times.
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- 'Unfathomable Cruelty': Trump Admin Asks Supreme Court to ... ›
On hot days in New York City, residents swelter when they're outside and in their homes. The heat is not just uncomfortable. It can be fatal.
- Extreme Heat-Stressed Locations Could Increase by 80% - EcoWatch ›
- African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed to Extreme Heat ... ›
- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Government Neglect ... ›
Fracking companies are going bankrupt at a rapid pace, often with taxpayer-funded bonuses for executives, leaving harm for communities, taxpayers, and workers, the New York Time reports.
- Plunging Oil Prices Trigger Economic Downturn in Fracking Boom ... ›
- Fracking Boom Bursts in Face of Low Oil Prices - EcoWatch ›
- As Fracking Companies Face Bankruptcy, U.S. Regulators Enable ... ›
A report scheduled for release later Tuesday by Congress' non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Trump administration undervalues the costs of the climate crisis in order to push deregulation and rollbacks of environmental protections, according to The New York Times.
- Under Trump, EPA Workers Seek Bill of Rights to Allow Them to ... ›
- Trump Adds 'Tasteless Insult to Injury' by Pushing Fossil Fuel ... ›
By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
- Trump Admin Rejects CDC Reopening Guidelines - EcoWatch ›
- How Do You Stay Safe Now That States Are Reopening? - EcoWatch ›
- Florida Breaks U.S. Daily Record With Over 15,000 New ... ›
By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
- DNC Ignores Progressive Climate Activists - EcoWatch ›
- Who's a Climate Champion and Who's a Climate Disaster? - EcoWatch ›