Our Biggest Enviro Threat? 77 ALEC Bills in 2013 Advance a Big Oil, Big Ag Agenda
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At least 77 bills to oppose renewable energy standards, support fracking and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and otherwise undermine environmental laws were introduced in 34 states in 2013, according to a new analysis from the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. In addition, nine states have been inspired by ALEC's "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" to crack down on videographers documenting abuses on factory farms. ALEC, Fueled by Fossil Fuel Industry, Pursues Retrograde Energy Agenda
For decades, ALEC has been a favored conduit for some of the worlds largest polluters, like Koch Industries, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil, and for decades has promoted less environmental regulation and more drilling and fracking.
ALEC bills in recent years have pulled states out of regional climate initiatives, opposed carbon dioxide emission standards, created hurdles for state agencies attempting to regulate pollution, and tried to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation introduced in 2013 carries on this legacy. ALEC bills favor the fossil fuel barons and promote a retrograde energy agenda that pollutes our air and water and is slowly cooking the planet to what may soon be devastating temperatures.
"Disregarding science at every turn, ALEC is willing to simply serve as a front for the fossil fuel industry," says Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. "Given the stakes--the earth's climate--that's shabby and sad."
ALEC Tours the Tar Sands
In October of 2012, ALEC organized an "Oil Sands Academy" where nine ALEC member politicians were given an all-expenses-paid trip to Calgary and flown on a tour of the Alberta tarsands while accompanied by oil industry lobbyists. The trip was sponsored by pipeline operator TransCanada and the oil-industry funded American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and email records obtained by CMD show that after the trip, ALEC urged legislators to send "thank you" notes to corporate lobbyists for their generosity.
At least ten states in 2013 have introduced variations on the ALEC "Resolution in Support of the Keystone XL Pipeline," calling on the president and Congress to approve the controversial project. Environmentalists oppose the pipeline because extracting oil from Canadian tar sands would unlock huge amounts of carbon, increasing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Despite being promoted as a "job creator," the pipeline would only create between 50 and 100 permanent positions in an economy of over 150 million working people.
In Nebraska, CMD filed an ethics complaint against state senator Jim Smith, the ALEC State Chair for Nebraska, who never revealed to his constituents that he had gone on the "Oil Sands Academy," and failed to disclose over a thousand dollars of travel expenses paid for by the Government of Alberta, Canada. Sen. Smith has been exceptionally vocal when it comes to his support for the Keystone XL pipeline. For example, he sponsored a 2012 Nebraska law that would -- if it survives a continuing legal challenge -- bypass the U.S. State Department and allow TransCanada to start building the Nebraska part of the pipeline right away, regardless of any future decision by the federal government.
ALEC Partners with Heartland Institute for Rollback of Renewables
Even more extraordinary is ALEC's push this year to repeal Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which require that utility companies provide a certain amount of their total energy from renewable sources like wind.
"ALEC's long time role in denying the science and policy solutions to climate change is shifting into an evolving roadblock on state and federal clean energy incentives, a necessary part of global warming mitigation," says Connor Gibson, a Research Associate at Greenpeace.