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Why ALEC Said ‘No Thanks’ to Renewable Energy Members

Business

By Connor Gibson

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Leaked American Legislative Exchange Council documents published by The Guardian recently offered a glimpse into ALEC’s financial troubles, spurred by its role in peddling corporate laws through statehouses around the country. ALEC’s controversial work has caused its member companies to abandon it, such as pushing the National Rifle Association’s Stand Your Ground laws, efforts to undermine clean energy incentives and delay climate change regulations, and breaking workers unions.

The ALEC documents revealed its “Prodical Son” project [sic], a list of 41 corporate members the legislator-lobbyist matchmaker would like to entice back into its roster. ALEC has lost about 60 corporate members since 2011, the year ALEC Exposed was launched by the Center for Media and Democracy.

But there are some private sector members that ALEC doesn’t want back. Sixty companies left ALEC and it’s asking 41 to rejoin…so who is missing from the Prodigal Son list?

Conspicuously, both the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are not on ALEC’s secret Prodigal Son list. Not surprising, since an ALEC staffer accused residential solar rooftop owners of being “freeriders,” despite how they feed extra electricity back into the grid and spare utilities the capital costs of installing those solar panels themselves.

The solar trade group SEIA left ALEC in the fall of 2012. Shortly before that, ALEC’s Energy, Environment & Agriculture task force considered, but didn’t ever approve, the Solar Streamline Permitting Act (see p. 18). It’s pretty much what it sounds like–making it faster and easier for state governments to approve solar projects, a concept that you might assume ALEC’s conservative member legislators would embrace.

But ALEC didn’t pass the solar permitting model bill. At the same time, ALEC was incubating its assault on state clean energy incentives through The Heartland Institute’s proposed Electricity Freedom Act, the repeal of state renewable portfolio standards, later introduced in some form in 15 states, according to ALEC.

ALEC’s documents list SEIA among “Lapsed” members, with a note explaining “left because their bill did not pass the task force.” SEIA was ALEC’s only interest dedicated entirely to solar energy at the time, and with both SEIA and AWEA absent from ALEC’s ranks, ALEC has no members predominantly focused on clean energy development.

Check out Rachel Maddow’s recent interview with Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington for more on ALEC’s work against clean energy and other revelations from ALEC’s leaked documents:

ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force: Hostile Territory for Clean Energy

Members of ALEC’s EEA task force include Koch Industries, the engine of climate denial finance, not to mention many groups its billionaire owners fund and even helped create, like Americans for Prosperity,  the Cato Institute and The Heartland Institute.

There’s ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute, the architects of the leaked 1998 master plan to publicly attack climate science and scientists, which included ALEC itself and other ALEC members like DCI Group.

There’s Peabody Energy, which commands its PR spokespeople to deny global warming. There’s Duke Energy and Arizona Public Service, two major utilities fighting  to make residential rooftop solar energy more expensive for residents and small businesses owners in their respective regions. ALEC’s utilities are joined by their top trade association, Edison Electric Institute.

And don’t forget the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the heavily advertised “coalition that hates each other.” ACCCE was caught subcontracting groups that forged letters to Congress against 2009′s failed national climate policy.

Mining, petrochemical, utility, & agribusiness interests supporting ALEC:

Many dirty energy interests have recently sponsored ALEC’s conferences, pay to participate in ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force meetings, or both. ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force is currently co-chaired by American Electric Power’s Paul Loeffelman and Wyoming state Representative Thomas Lockhart.

*Companies with membership on ALEC’s national corporate board are indicated with asterisks.*

Koch:

*Koch Industries*—with business in oil and gas exploration, pipelines, refining and trading, coal and other carbon product logistics, timber and consumer paper products, commodities trading and investing, chemicals, fertilizer, ethanol, cattle and game ranching, glass, fiber optics, electronics and plenty of awkward public relations.

The Charles Koch Foundation and Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation both fund ALEC outside of Koch Industries’ membership dues, together giving ALEC hundreds of thousands of dollars. ALEC has long depended on the Koch brothers.

Oil & Gas:

  • Atmos Energy
  • BP
  • Cheniere Energy
  • Chesapeake Energy
  • Chevron
  • Continental Resources
  • Devon Energy
  • EnCana Corporation
  • Energy Transfer
  • *ExxonMobil*
  • Marathon Oil
  • McMoRan Exploration Company
  • OXY USA (Occidental Petroleum)
  • QEP Resources
  • Shell
  • Spectra Energy
  • TransCanada Pipelines
  • Williams Companies

Oil & Gas Lobby:

  • American Petroleum Institute (API)
  • American Gas Association (AGA)
  • America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA)
  • Center for Liquified Natural Gas

Coal Mining:

  • *Peabody Energy*
  • Cloud Peak Energy

Utilities (primarily Coal, Gas and Nuclear generation):

  • American Electric Power (AEP)
  • Ameren
  • Arizona Public Service (APS)
  • Dominion Resources
  • Duke Energy
  • *Energy Future Holdings*
  • MDU Resources
  • MidAmerican Energy, PacifiCorp, NV Energy (all owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway)
  • NiSource
  • PG&E Corporation
  • Salt River Project (SRP)

Coal, Chemical & Fossil Fuel Product Shipping Railroad Co’s:

  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe (owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway)
  • CN
  • CSX Corporation
  • Genessee & Wyoming Inc.
  • Norfolk Southern
  • Union Pacific

Coal & Utility Lobby:

  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)
  • Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
  • Indiana Energy Association
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
  • Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (NRECA member)
  • Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)

Chemical, Agribusiness and Paper Industry Interests:

  • Dow
  • LyondellBasell Industries
  • American Chemistry Council
  • American Plastics Council
  • Bayer
  • J.R. Simplot Company
  • CropLife America (lobbying group for Monsanto & other agribusiness corporations)
  • International Paper

Uranium Mining & Nuclear Technology:

  • Virginia Uranium
  • EnergySolutions

State Policy Network, SPN members & SPN associate members:

  • State Policy Network (umbrella for 64 state-based orgs and over 250 formally-affiliated allies—see full SPN member list)
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Atlas Foundation
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (co-authors ALEC reports against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pollution rules)
  • The Heartland Institute (IL)
  • Goldwater Institute (AZ)

ALEC notes show that SPN members the Commonwealth Foundation (PA) and John Locke Foundation (NC) have recently lapsed but would like to rejoin ALEC’s ranks. Each of these SPN groups are part of the the Koch-funded climate denial machine.

Public Relations firms with known Fossil Fuel Clients:

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

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"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

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Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."