Quantcast
Climate

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.

The Overpass Light Brigade helps ALEC celebrate its 40th anniversary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo credit: Light Brigading

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."

Kert Davies from the Climate Investigations Center said his group has been doing just that for decades.

"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

Secret Tape Exposes Fracking Industry Playing Dirty

ALEC Continues Attack on Renewable Energy Policies to Keep America Addicted to Fossil Fuels

5 Ways ALEC Enables Climate Deniers

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Sunbathers are seen on Bondi Beach as temperatures soar in Sydney on Dec. 28, 2018. PETER PARKS / AFP / Getty Images

Record-Breaking Heat Wave Bakes Australia

Australia is sweating through yet another record breaking heat wave, with the past four days among the country's 10 hottest days on record, the Bureau of Meteorology announced Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Power plants like this one need to be retired at the end of their natural life to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Peter Cade / The Image Bank / Getty Images

'Last Chance': Warming Could Be Limited to 1.5°C With Immediate Phaseout of Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Researchers Say

It is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications found, as long as we act immediately to phase out fossil fuels.

The study used a climate model to determine what would happen if, beginning at the end of 2018, all existing fossil fuel infrastructure—from industrial equipment to cars to planes to ships to power plants—was replaced with renewable alternatives at the end of its design lifetime. The researchers found there would be a 64 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, in line with the most ambitious goal of the Paris agreement.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Glyphosate applied to a North Yorkshire field. Chafer Machinery / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

EU Approval of Glyphosate Based on Review That Plagiarized Monsanto Studies

The European Union's license extension of the world's most popular weedkiller, glyphosate, was based on a review that heavily plagiarized industry studies, according to a report (pdf) commissioned by European parliamentarians (MEPs).

The new analysis released Tuesday compares whether a risk assessment of the controversial herbicide was actually authored by scientists representing Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) or by the European Glyphosate Task Force (GTF), an industry group that includes Monsanto, the manufacturer of glyphosate-based Roundup, in its ranks.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Rising temperatures and more frequent wildfires in Alaskan national parks could affect caribou's habitat and winter food sources. Zak Richter / NPS

To Preserve National Parks in a Warming World, Reconnect Fragmented Public Lands

By Stephen Nash

The Trump administration's decision to keep many U.S. national parks open during the current federal government shutdown, with few or no staff, spotlights how popular and how vulnerable these unique places are.

Some states, such as Utah and Arizona, have spent heavily to keep parks open rather than lose tourist revenues. Unfortunately, without rangers to enforce rules, some visitors have strewn garbage and vandalized scenic areas.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Emma Bray of Denver, a plaintiff on the youth-led climate lawsuit, Martinez v. COGCC. @youthvgov / Twitter

Colorado's Top Court Sides Against Youth in Major Anti-Fracking Case

Colorado's oil and gas industry breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after the state's highest court overturned a lower court decision that said state regulators must consider public health and the environment in permitting oil and gas production.

The unanimous ruling was a disappointment for the teenage plaintiffs, including high-profile climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who led the closely watched lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
The possible site of Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical's ethane cracker plant along the Ohio River, as seen from Moundsville, West Virginia. Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Taking on Climate Change and Petrochemicals in the Ohio River Valley

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry, we've all heard the promises before: new jobs, economic growth and happier communities, all thanks to their generosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion

A Call for the Food Movement to Rally Behind the Green New Deal

By Ronnie Cummins

"The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan … Half measures will not work … The time for slow and incremental efforts has long past [sic]." - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then-candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Huffington Post, June 26, 2018

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
The Great Australian Bight is home to one of only two southern right whale calving grounds in the world. Bob Adams / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Seismic Blasting Approved in the Great Australian Bight, Posing 'Lethal Threat' to Marine Life

Australia's petroleum regulator granted permission for seismic blasting in the Great Australian Bight, sparking fierce outcry from environmentalists over its threat to the area's marine life, whihc include endangered blue and southern right whales.

On Monday, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) gave the green light to oil and gas exploration services company PGS Australia's application for seismic surveys off the coast of South Australia's Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!