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ALEC’s Other ‘Deadly Power’ Campaign To Kill Local weather Initiatives

U-tube heat exchangerBasic Motors CEO Daniel Akerson lately ended his firm’s longtime monetary help for the Heartland Institute, a leading climate change denier group. Then why is GM still a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Susan Walsh/AP)

The relatively unknown American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) got a black eye lately when information stories revealed it was a major mover behind “Stand Your Floor” legal guidelines in Florida and 24 different states that quickly shielded the man who shot 17-yr-outdated Trayvon Martin.

But the secretive group’s affect in statehouses goes rather a lot further than deadly force, self-protection laws. Since its founding in 1973, ALEC has ghostwritten state laws across the nation on a variety of issues, from voter ID laws to prison coverage to worker protections, as quite a few press accounts have identified.

What has gone unmentioned, nevertheless, is ALEC’s longtime stealth campaign to scuttle state–and federal–climate change initiatives, even if a lot of its company members publicly acknowledge that global warming is a serious downside. They embrace Basic Motors; oil giants BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil; and electric utilities Duke Energy, Entergy and Progress Vitality.

By ALEC’s own depend, it has practically 2,000 state legislator members who pay a token charge of $one hundred for 2 years. Most of its money comes from corporate and basis grants, and the roughly a hundred and ten corporations, forty commerce associations, 67 nonprofits and 23 corporate law companies that pay annual membership dues of $7,000, $12,000 or $25,000. That fee not only gives firms direct entry to ALEC legislators, it provides them the chance to craft mannequin bills that serve as templates for state legislatures with none public consciousness of their function.

“ALEC supplies the personal sector with an unparalleled opportunity to have its voice heard, and its perspective appreciated, by the legislative members,” an ALEC brochure explains. ALEC legislators then do the remainder. In line with ALEC, they have on common launched greater than a thousand payments primarily based on the group’s company-permitted model legislation every legislative cycle, and the group claims that about 17 p.c of these bills have been enacted.

Till final 12 months, not much was known about ALEC. However thanks to a whistleblower who offered inside ALEC documents to the center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit public interest group, we now have a listing of former and current ALEC members and copies of greater than 800 mannequin payments which have been introduced in statehouses throughout the country. The center, which publishes the PRWatch and SourceWatch websites, posted the paperwork on a website it named ALEC Uncovered.

ALEC Exposed lists practically 100 model power and environmental bills that ALEC legislators have introduced over the last decade or so. They embody legislation undermining regional initiatives to combat climate change, opposing a national commonplace requiring utilities to extend their use of renewable power, and blocking federal standards for automobile carbon pollution.

After a cap-and-commerce bill to cut back carbon emissions failed within the U.S. Senate in 2010, for example, ALEC, business groups and their allies trained their sights on comparable state efforts, particularly the regional market-based, cap-and-commerce programs in the Northeast, Midwest and West that collectively included 32 states. In a March 2011 story in Grist, Dave Anderson–who now works on the Union of Concerned Scientists–reported that ALEC legislators in at the very least seven states–Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington–introduced an ALEC decision urging their governors oil ppb to tug out of their regional compact.

That model decision has been quite profitable. Final yr, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington stop the Western Climate Initiative, leaving only California and four Canadian provinces. Gov. Chris Christie announced New Jersey was dropping out of the ten-member Northeast Regional Greenhouse Fuel Initiative (RGGI), although he has yet to problem a rulemaking to make it official. And the brand new Hampshire Senate fell one vote short of overriding Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a bill that would have ended the Granite State’s involvement in RGGI. In the meantime, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gasoline Reduction Accord–a collaboration of six states and one Canadian province–fell apart by itself when the governors who signed it left office.

In February, press experiences revealed that one in every of ALEC’s nonprofit group members, the Heartland Institute, was developing a Okay-12 curriculum guide that falsely characterized climate science as controversial and uncertain. It turns out ALEC beat Heartland to the punch a very long time in the past. In 2000, ALEC issued a model state bill with the Orwellian title “The Environmental Literacy Enchancment Act,” which would enable public main and secondary schools to show climate change denial, or “skepticism,” as a sound scientific position.

Steve Horn, who writes for DeSmogBlog, a Canadian nonprofit that screens climate disinformation campaigns, has been tracking the “environmental literacy” invoice. In January, he reported that since 2008, ALEC-affiliated legislators have launched it in Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. It passed in four of those states–Louisiana and Texas in 2009, South Dakota in 2010, and Tennessee just last month.

In Tennessee, Horn reported last month, the invoice was opposed by a variety of nationwide and state science and training organizations, together with the American Association for the Development of Science, American Institute for Biological Sciences, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and the eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences. Petroleum Refinery Equipment Even two major state newspapers–the Knoxville Information Sentinel and the Nashville Tennessean–condemned the law. No matter, there was little opposition within the statehouse.

ALEC’s latest bad press sent 10 excessive-profile ALEC members, principally within the meals enterprise, scurrying for cowl. American Visitors Options, Arizona Public Service, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Mars, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Reed Elsevier and Wendy’s all have severed their ties to the group. However to this point, power and auto industry members are sticking to their guns, even though lots of them disagree–not less than publicly–with ALEC’s local weather agenda.

ExxonMobil is a prime example. In January 2007, after the Union of Concerned Scientists, amongst others, revealed that between 1998 and 2005 the corporate funneled millions of dollars to greater than forty climate denier coverage teams, the company introduced that it had stopped funding them. More lately, I discovered the next unambiguous assertion on the corporate web site: “Rising greenhouse gas emissions pose significant risks to society and ecosystems.”

Regardless, an ExxonMobil representative sits on ALEC’s corporate board, the company cosponsored ALEC’s 2010 annual conference, and between 1998 and 2010, it contributed practically $1.5 million to ALEC. And when a Bloomberg reporter contacted the company earlier this week, spokesman Alan Jeffers said ExxonMobil would remain a member because “we simply worth the ability to work on points related to energy and business competitiveness.”

One other example is Normal Motors. Ford and Chrysler was ALEC members; GM is still on board. However there could also be cracks in the company’s resolve. Last month, succumbing to strain from Forecast the Info, a meteorology advocacy group, GM announced it might cease funding the Heartland Institute because it “downplays the risks of climate disruption.” “GM’s operating its enterprise as if local weather change is real,” GM spokesman Greg Martin told the Los Angeles Instances.

Heartland, as I discussed above, was outed in February for, amongst different issues, planning to disseminate academic supplies questioning the reality of local weather change. Will GM reduce its assist for ALEC for the same reason Maybe if the automaker gets some unwanted publicity, but that hasn’t happened–but.

Elliott Negin is the director of stories & commentary on the Union of Involved Scientists.

Below is only a sampling of what a few of ALEC’s company members within the energy sector are saying about climate change:

BP America: We assist insurance policies that we imagine can tackle local weather change whereas also making it possible for society to meet rising demand for secure and reasonably priced power. We believe the use of a worth on carbon–one which applies economic system-huge and treats all carbon equally, whether it comes out of an industrial smokestack or a car tailpipe–will make vitality effectivity and conservation extra engaging to companies and people, and help lower-carbon energy sources change into extra price aggressive within the vitality mix.

Chevron: At Chevron, we recognize and share the issues of governments and the public about climate change. The usage of fossil fuels to fulfill the world’s vitality needs is a contributor to an increase in greenhouse gases–mainly carbon dioxide and methane–within the Earth’s ambiance. There is a widespread view that this improve is resulting in local weather change, with adversarial effects on the atmosphere.

Duke Energy: Most scientists imagine that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are influencing the earth’s local weather. Though there’s a lot to learn concerning the trigger and impact of climate change, consensus is building that steps should be taken now to scale back these emissions. Duke Vitality shares that view.

Entergy: Entergy believes meaningful action is required now to handle local weather change and supports reductions of 70 to 80 p.c by 2050. The longer we wait, the more difficult the problem becomes.

Progress Energy: Progress Vitality is actively working to scale back greenhouse fuel emissions and help shape effective local weather change insurance policies for our company, our prospects and the setting we share.

Shell Oil: Inhabitants development and economic improvement are driving power demand. All energy sources will likely be needed, with fossil fuels meeting the majority of demand. At the same time CO2 emissions should be reduced to keep away from severe local weather change. To handle CO2, governments and business must work collectively. Authorities motion is needed and we support a global framework that puts a value on CO2, encouraging the usage of all CO2-decreasing technologies.

Xcel Vitality: At Xcel Energy, the fossil fuels we use to make electricity emit greenhouse gases, which are linked to climate change – an area of public concern and a major political challenge. — E.N.