By Jeff Deyette
Having failed completely in its attempt to repeal state renewable electricity standards (RES) during the spring 2013 legislative season, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is shifting gears. Their new strategy is more nuanced, but the goal remains the same: support their fossil fuel cronies by rolling back renewable energy policies. Fortunately, this latest scheme is likely doomed to fail as well.
This week, ALEC will host its annual meeting in Chicago, during which the group—who provides powerful corporations with behind-closed-doors access to legislators for the purpose of drafting ‘model legislation’ that serves their interests—will discuss the next phase of its ongoing effort to dismantle state renewable energy policies across the country. But first, ALEC leaders will likely have to explain their failures to their fossil fuel industry funders, including Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobil and Peabody Energy.
Just last year, ALEC made it very public that repealing state RES policies would be a legislative priority in 2013, doubling down on its recent efforts to roll back these standards. ALEC adopted model legislation, written by climate skeptics at the Heartland Institute and innocuously dubbed the “Electricity Freedom Act”, which had the sole purpose of repealing state RES policies. Along with the Heartland Institute and a host of fossil fuel-funded cohorts, ALEC launched a disinformation campaign targeting several state RES policies, including high-profile attacks in Kansas and North Carolina.
The good news is that ALEC’s efforts completely failed: not a single state RES was repealed. Instead, 14 new pro-renewable energy bills became law nationwide, including stronger RES targets in Colorado, Minnesota and Nevada.
How did ALEC misfire so badly? It appears they underestimated the depth of support for RES policies from both the general public and a diverse coalition of businesses, farmers, community and faith leaders, public health and environmental advocates, and policy makers of all political stripes. That popular and bipartisan support stems largely from the policy’s successful track record.
State-level renewable electricity standards, which require electric utilities to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy in their power supplies, are a leading driver of renewable energy development in the U.S. today. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have these market-based policies, 17 of which have set targets of 20 percent or greater.
Contrary to misleading claims by ALEC, a recent UCS review of state RES policies shows that utilities are successfully meeting their renewable energy requirements with little or no additional cost to consumers, while supporting rapidly growing renewable energy industries that provide jobs and bring investments, tax revenues and other substantial economic benefits to local communities. In other words, the facts on the ground about the success and effectiveness of renewable energy policies are carrying far more weight with legislators than the fiction that ALEC and its allies have been peddling.
With last year’s strategy falling flat, ALEC now appears to be moving toward a more subtle scheme. According to one recent report, members of the group’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force will consider adopting new model legislation, called the Market-Power Renewables Act. Rather than an outright repeal approach, this model legislation essentially seeks to “phase out” state RES policies by counting voluntary purchases of renewable energy made by homeowners, businesses and other institutions toward a utility’s declining annual renewable energy requirements.
It’s a clever approach because it allows ALEC members to be “for” renewable energy (e.g., the voluntary market), while actually serving to slash utility requirements to shift toward cleaner, more sustainable power sources. But it too will likely falter.
The voluntary and compliance (e.g., RES) markets for renewable energy have effectively co-existed since 1997. Both are important drivers of new development and each has strengths that complement the other.
The compliance market offers long-term certainty to developers, which spurs investment and helps bring down technology costs. The RES serves as a floor, or minimum requirement for renewable energy, and ensures that all consumers share in the cost to bring the economic development, public health, climate, price stability and energy security benefits that they provide.
The voluntary market provides the opportunity for energy consumers of any size to go above and beyond what the compliance market requires. It is well established and thriving, with some of the nation’s largest corporations—including Intel, Microsoft, Whole Foods, Walmart and Staples—investing millions of dollars to be leaders in clean energy.
By allowing utilities to double count voluntary purchases toward their RES requirements, ALEC’s model legislation would shift the costs of RES compliance disproportionately away from all ratepayers and onto those voluntary market participants. What incentive then would a Walmart or Microsoft or even individual homeowners have to continue making voluntary purchases? ALEC’s Market-Power Renewables Act would therefore undermine both the voluntary and compliance markets, likely adding a whole set of new and powerful voices to the already strong coalition that has formed to oppose its anti-renewable energy legislative agenda.
What’s more, ALEC’s "new" proposal has actually been a bad idea for at least 14 years. Way back in 1999, the National Association of Attorneys General established Green Marketing Guidelines, which argued that the double counting of renewable energy credits (used to track purchases in both the voluntary and compliance markets) are deceptive and not acceptable. More recently, the Federal Trade Commission issued Green Guidelines that came to a similar conclusion.
It is likely that ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force members will ignore these obstacles, and instead move full steam ahead with endorsing the new model legislation. That’s unfortunate, because the real-world evidence about the success of the RES and the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy is clear. With any luck though, the Market-Power Renewables Act will end up in the trash can right next to the failed Electricity Freedom Act.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLE ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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