The American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to silence critics for exposing their history of climate change denial, according to the Washington Post. ALEC sent cease-and-desist letters to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Common Cause, demanding that the two organizations “cease making false statements” and to “remove all false or misleading material” that suggest ALEC does not believe in global warming. Common Cause and LCV have been vocal critics of ALEC’s anti-climate solutions work over the past few years.
Ironically, the facts show that ALEC supports the view that climate change is not an urgent problem, based on a review of ALEC’s model legislation, agenda, and speakers. A newly launched website (in which Energy & Policy Institute is a partner), www.ALECclimatechangedenial.org, documents how ALEC events promote a climate denial agenda, including inviting prominent climate deniers to their events in an effort to provide “motivation” for legislators to promote the ALEC agenda back in the state capitols. Below are a few of the highlights:
The term “climate denial” goes beyond simply questioning the international scientific consensus (on which ALEC’s track record is clear). “Climate denial” also includes working aggressively to delay, obstruct, rollback, or weaken the policy solutions to the climate crisis - and again, ALEC’s track record is clear. ALEC’s strategy of deny, delay, and obstruct policy solutions rooted in science is the same playbook that was used by the tobacco industry; only this time, we must act quickly to avoid climate catastrophe.
Instead, ALEC promotes an anti-climate science and anti-clean energy agenda that is most clearly demonstrated by reading the organization’s model legislation, which is often sponsored by fossil fuel interests or front groups and then distributed to its legislative membership. ALEC model bills have sought to rollback climate change regulations, teach climate denial in classrooms, and weaken renewable energy policies across the country.
ALEC has been promoting its effort to stop the EPA carbon dioxide regulations, which will be finalized in June 2015. ALEC’s Board recently approved a model resolution opposing the EPA’s proposed guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants and a model bill “requiring approval of state plan to implement EPA”s carbon guidelines.” While the first anti-EPA bill is a non-binding resolution, the legislation requiring state approval would create bureaucratic red tape and could delay state compliance plans from being submitted to the EPA. According to Inside Climate News, legislation modeled after ALEC’s bill has already been enacted in Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and bills introduced in West Virginia, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona, and South Dakota would all create additional red tape and limit the state’s options.
In addition, ALEC approved the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” to push states to adopt a “teach both sides” approach to climate science education, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus. (Read the statements by scientific organizations of national or international standing stating climate change is happening and must be urgently addressed.)
Finally, ALEC has routinely attacked pro-clean energy policies across the country by adopting model legislation to rollback renewable energy standards (RES) and weaken solar net metering policies. These pro-clean energy policies translate into direct market competition for ALEC’s corporate membership in the fossil fuel, coal, and utility industries.
In 2012, ALEC adopted the “Electricity Freedom Act”, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, to repeal state standards requiring utilities to get a portion of electricity from renewable energy sources. After failing to pass RES rollbacks in any state in 2013, ALEC adopted two additional bills to weaken renewable energy policies at the state level.
In 2013, ALEC adopted an anti-solar net metering resolution, which was “worked on” by an executive of the utility lobby group, Edison Electric Institute (EEI). EEI was recently exposed in The Washington Post for launching a national campaign against rooftop solar to protect utility industry profits.
These attacks on the clean energy solutions to climate change make it clear that ALEC does not believe in climate change science or views the issue as a serious problem. Instead, ALEC pursues the priorities of its fossil fuel membership: Peabody Energy, Duke Energy, EEI, Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and others that benefit from ALEC’s anti-climate solutions and anti-clean energy campaigning.