Alternative Energy

Published on March 26th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Powerful Energy Lobbying Group ALEC Writing Anti-Climate Legislation in 16 States

There is anti-EPA legislation metastasizing in 15  (and now 16)  US states, aimed at ending the Obama administration’s backstop use of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Within months of the December EPA rulings on greenhouse gases, the bubbling up of all these state level initiatives would appear to be spontaneous eruptions of righteous local anger at supposed “job-killing” proposals – but in fact they have been centrally coordinated. All these state resolutions have almost identical language.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is literally writing the anti-EPA legislation for these states! The basic resolution opposing the EPA endangerment ruling being adopted in the 15 states was drafted by ALEC’s Natural Resources Task Force.

Image: Hakan Dahlstrom polluter

The American Legislative Exchange Council is writing anti-EPA bills for 15 states

The powerful and very effective lobbying group receives one third of its support from 10 energy companies, including Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, Shell, and Texaco. Energy industry groups such as Koch Industries, American Petroleum Institute, and the American Electric Power Association pay dues of up to $50,000 a year to support industry-friendly legislation for the fossil energy industry. 

The Natural Resources Defense Council has described ALEC as a “tax-exempt screen for major U.S. corporations and trade associations that use it to influence legislative activities at the state level.” The lobbying group has pushed legislation that favors big business and rollbacks of environmental regulations since the days of Enron, and before, under its pay-to-play rules.

But right wing lobbying groups in the US are nothing new. However, ALEC is able to fast-track legislation by creating model legislative language for state lawmakers.

For this reason, they are extremely effective at getting legislation enacted. As far back as 2001, it boasted that “during the 1999-2000 legislative cycle, ALEC legislators introduced more than 3100 pieces of legislation based on our models, and more than 450 of these were enacted… promoting ALEC Policy”.

With the rise of Obama administration actions in favor of enforcing Clean Air Act regulations, many of which have laid dormant for decades – and to include for the first time greenhouse gases amongst the pollutants to be regulated – the conservative lobbying group, alarmed by the speed of the change in the newly effective EPA, has speedily mounted a defense in state legislatures around the nation.

Model legislation templates produced by the industry group is now being sponsored by Republican legislators in 16 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Most of the states host powerful oil or coal industries.

The first of the 16 states to pass its ALEC written anti-climate legislation into law is Alabama, which supports the House version of the anti-EPA bill in congress. It has now enacted into law the Save Our Energy Jobs Act.

Two states have passed resolutions in one of the state houses. Oklahoma’s SCR 41 has passed the state Senate. In Utah a House committee has adopted resolutions calling for the overturn of the EPA ruling “until a full and independent investigation of the climate data conspiracy and global warming science can be substantiated.”

Resolutions in Alaska and West Virginia support the Senator Lisa Murkowski would-be rewrite of the Clean Air Act. Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia, and Washington all have very similar resolutions attempting to block state enforcement of global warming rules.

In addition to the 15 states passing specific anti EPA resolutions, the South Dakota legislature has passed a resolution telling public schools to teach “balance” about the “prejudiced” science of climate change, presumably aiming to get future generations of legislators on board with industry-friendlier legislation.

Some have added their own quite revealing preambles to the ALEC language in their bills to roll back US environmental law.

The original wording in South Dakota’s bill, for example, ascribed global warming to causes not espoused since Medieval times:

“That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative.”

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