Center for Media and Democracy

Wind, solar groups quit ALEC as conservative powerhouse targets clean-energy programs

no alecTwo renewable energy industry groups have dropped out of the American Legislative Exchange Council, citing the conservative coalition’s efforts to wipe out state-level clean energy programs.

ALEC connects businesses and about 2,000 state lawmakers to push free-market legislation, and state lawmakers who are members of ALEC often introduce the model bills in their home legislatures — an increasingly controversial practice that has been widely criticized by liberal and environmental groups and some government watchdogs.

The American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association joined the industry-backed coalition for a year because they wanted a “seat at the table” to discuss hot energy issues, said AWEA spokesman Peter Kelley.

But the groups decided to drop out after ALEC adopted the “Electricity Freedom Act” model bill in October, which would end requirements that utilities generate a set amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar (E&ENews PM, Nov. 5, 2012). SEIA allowed its one-year membership to expire last fall, and AWEA dropped out earlier this month.

SEIA’s decision to drop out was also fueled by ALEC’s refusal to take up a SEIA proposal to ease permitting costs for distributed generation, said Carrie Cullen-Hitt, a senior vice president for the solar industry group. “We didn’t get very far with that,” Cullen-Hitt said.

Now, AWEA is warning state lawmakers not to be taken in by ALEC’s message, one that Kelley said is driven by fossil fuel companies. He pointed out that conservative think tank and climate skeptic Heartland Institute told The Washington Post last year that it had joined ALEC to write language to revise state renewable energy mandates in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

“We want to warn our former fellow members of ALEC about that misinformation because we won’t be around to protect them,” he said.

Environmental and clean energy groups cite watchdog websites that show companies like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil Corp., Duke Energy and Peabody sit on ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force and have a hand in crafting energy legislation.

“There are 29 states that have renewable portfolio standards, and it’s my understanding that ALEC is targeting each one,” said Bill Gupton, an outreach director at Consumers Against Rate Hikes.

Renewable energy development on the state level has drawn much of the energy sector’s attention in recent months as efforts to forge a climate bill on Capitol Hill become increasingly unlikely.

Kelley said that although the notion of RPS programs being reversed could be devastating for the renewable energy industry, he doesn’t believe ALEC will get far. “You can find someone to introduce a bill, but that doesn’t mean you can find someone to pass it,” he said.

For its part, ALEC says interest in repealing the state programs stems from the lawmakers themselves, not the conservative coalition as a whole.

ALEC, which does not disclose its membership or sources of funding, is simply a “platform” where lawmakers repeatedly raise the concern that consumers should not be forced to pay for politically backed energy sources like solar and wind through mandates, said Todd Wynn, who directs ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force.

“The characterization of this issue in particular is often misleading,” Wynn said. “I think that, often, our opposition and advocates of renewables energy think that ALEC is opposed to renewables, when we’re not.”

Some renewable energy companies and firms that manufacture goods needed to produce renewable energy belong to ALEC and don’t leave the group — even if they disagree with some policies — because they want to discuss hot-button issues, he added.

ALEC expects a handful of states to introduce bills to repeal RPS programs in February and March and full repeals to be implemented in 2014, Wynn said.

“Members are driving the debate. … Our state legislators have taken up the torch on these issues,” he said. “But ALEC itself isn’t driving an energy mandate repeal campaign.”

‘Dream come true’

Tracking ALEC’s connection to state lawmakers and particular legislation has become more difficult because the group is increasingly savvy about how it reaches out to state legislators, and model bills don’t always match measures that are introduced, said Connor Gibson, a researcher at Greenpeace.

For now, green groups are left checking state legislators’ membership in ALEC and speaking engagements, and waiting for bills to be introduced.

Such is the case in North Carolina, where state Rep. Mike Hager , a member of ALEC, is poised to introduce a bill next month that would repeal the state’s RPS program. North Carolina currently requires utilities to procure 12 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.

Hager, a former engineer for Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said during an interview today that ALEC isn’t helping him write his legislation. Instead, Hager said he’s a free-market, conservative Republican who doesn’t believe the United States should subsidize renewable energy when large quantities of cheap coal, gas and oil exist. He added that he does his own research.

“It’s just the central philosophy of the government subsidizing the industry,” Hager said. “It’s a logic issue.”

Duke Energy, a member of ALEC and large player in North Carolina, is trying to sidestep the debate.

Duke spokesman Dave Scanzoni said the utility hasn’t taken a formal position on the bill, and the decision to implement or repeal renewable portfolio standards should be “state specific.”

“Though we’re a member of ALEC, we don’t always agree with every issue that the organization or any other organization of which we’re a member takes,” he said, adding that Duke is a member of a wide array of liberal and conservative groups.

But a spokesman for Duke told the Charlotte Business Journal last May that the utility indeed opposes Hager’s bill and helped craft North Carolina’s RPS. Duke also opposes ALEC’s position to curb U.S. EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions and coal ash storage and set standards for mercury emissions, the spokesman said.

Gibson said ALEC’s push to repeal state renewable programs puts Duke in an awkward position.

“They’re still paying ALEC to do work that they say they don’t support,” he said. “This particular bill is attacking a law that Duke helped create.”

Green groups are suspicious that similar efforts could be under way in Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri and Wisconsin. All are states that, like North Carolina, have Republican majorities in the legislature (control of the state Senate in Virginia is split, though a Republican lieutenant governor can break tie votes). Of those states, only Missouri has a Democratic governor.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, is backing two bipartisan pieces of legislation to eliminate incentives that utilities receive for complying with the state’s voluntary RPS program.

Cuccinelli’s office said the bills would remove the “extra” payments that customers must make while ensuring that the state’s utilities generate 15 percent of their power from renewables by 2025.

“In short, Virginians can expect to have the same amount of renewable electricity as they would have had under the current law, but will pay less for it,” said Caroline Gibson, a spokeswoman for Cuccinelli.

But Beth Kemler, director of Virginia’s Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that the legislation is a “de facto repeal” of the state’s RPS program and that Cuccinelli has been known to speak at ALEC events.

“We certainly can’t draw any straight lines from ALEC to this bill, but … we can draw a straight line from ALEC to Cuccinelli — he has spoken at their events,” Kemler said. “We basically think of the [bill] as a very smart backhanded way to get rid of the RPS.”

Cuccinelli’s office said today that the attorney general is not an ALEC member.  Editor’s note:  We do not know if Cuccinelli is a current member of ALEC as Legacy Memeberships are extremely difficult to research and prove, HOWEVER, Cucinelli was a member of ALEC as recently as 2008

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This article was written by Hannah Northey and posted at http://eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2013/01/30/1
Greenwire

Republicans Applaud the Slow Death of the US Postal Service–VIDEO

“The USPS announced that it will end mail delivery on Saturdays this year.  Republicans in Congress have been waiting for this moment.  Ed Schultz talks to Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-VA, and letter carrier Audrey Himes about what can be done to save the postal service.”
U.S. Postal Service Reports Yearly Loss Of 15.9 Billion Dollars

This is the description of a segment on The Ed Show tonight.  You can watch the video by clicking here.

But this is not quite the full underlying story of the USPS’s predicament that it claims to be, as readers of www.vltp.net know.  Ed stops short of noting that this goes beyond the Republican Party, this goes to their owners – corporations, and their legislative “arm” – ALEC.  I guess that ALEC and the Republican Party are already so intertwined as to be indistinguishable–and that is before the new Republican Study Group-ALEC-Heritage Foundation (now headed by Jim DeMint) formal alliance as reported on in The Center for Media and Democracy‘s PR Watch by Brendan Fischer, please click here for link).

And of course, Ed Schultz needs to comply with MSNBC’s apparent business decision not to talk about ALEC–except when they otherwise make the news.

But I am very surprised about Truthout’s reporting of this.  Truthout is an excellent source for a wide range of information, and their copyrighted reports on The Other ALECs (which we re-printed with their permission here and here) go further than anyone other than VLTP or CMD’s Sourcewatch at identifying the various members of The Cabal.

Why am I surprised?  Well, here is a link to Bob Sloan’s expose on ALEC, The Koch Brothers, and the USPS as published here some 10 months ago.  And here is a link to an infographic in our Photo Gallery showing the Koch network of right wing associates.

But here is what I just don’t get:  If you treat the symptoms rather than treating the disease, you do not arrive at the cure.  If we are to neutralize ALEC then we must talk about them.  As Bob Sloan’s article showed, yes, republicans carried the bill through Congress.  Republican Members of ALEC.

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video and description were posted at:

The Ed Show
Feb. 6, 2013
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45755822/ns/msnbc-the_ed_show/#50725523

(please note that this clip has been edited to remove the other stories being introduced in the show’s opening)

States Pushing ALEC Bill To Require Teaching Climate Change Denial In Schools

groundhog

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – known by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” – has hit the ground running in 2013, pushing “models bills” mandating the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems.

January hasn’t even ended, yet ALEC has already planted its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” – which mandates a “balanced” teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms – in the state legislatures of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona so far this year.

In the past five years since 2008, among the hottest years in U.S. history, ALEC has introduced its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” in 11 states, or over one-fifth of the statehouses nationwide. The bill has passed in four states, an undeniable form of “big government” this “free market” organization decries in its own literature. More →

Money OUT, Voters IN: Find an Event Near You!

Money OUT, Voters IN: Find an Event Near You!

by Lisa Graves — January 10, 2013

MLK at the signing of the Voting Rights ActRev. Martin Luther King at the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

Last year, Americans witnessed an explosion in million-dollar checks from a handful of uber-wealthy people underwriting political campaigns and election ads. In 2012, there were also numerous efforts to make it harder for Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote through restrictive voter ID legislation and limits on voter registration.

That is why the weekend of January 19, 2013, is so important. That coming weekend marks two dates significant to American democracy. It includes the federal holiday marking the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., which commemorates the civil rights leader who worked to secure voting rights for all Americans. It also marks the anniversary of the devastating U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates for big money and helped make the 2012 elections the most expensive in the history of the world.

On January 19, activists in more than 60 towns and cities across the country will participate in a national day of action through rallies, teach-ins, and conferences to move closer to taking back our democracy.

Get involved!

Join CMD and our allies at the website www.MoneyOut-VotersIn.org to find an event near you. If no event is happening, sign up to create one — check out the Resources page for a sample press release and sample flyer you can edit for your event, as well as media and planning guides.

Between the flood of money from corporations and super-rich individuals, and new state laws designed to keep people out of the voting booth, the American people are sick of a privileged few trying to drown out the voices of the many.

Learn what actions you can take to amplify your voice and take advantage of this historic moment.

Let’s make the third anniversary of Citizens United a moment to remember and one that our representatives can’t ignore.

Center for Media and Democracy • 520 University Avenue, Suite 260 • Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-260-9713 • Fax: 608-260-9714

 

How Are Corporations Undermining K-12 Public Education Through These ALEC Bills? – ALECExposed

Courtesy of CMD’s ALECExposed, here is a great 2 page flyer about ALEC’s position on Education.  Perfect for handouts at teach-ins, rallies, protests, etc. More →

Privatizing Government Services in the Era of ALEC and the Great Recession – Part IV – Unions and Collective Bargaining

IV.   UNIONS AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Many ALEC bills target teachers and collective bargaining, and laws that
are similar to those bills have been enacted in the aftermath of the Republican victories in 2010.  For example, in Indiana, where Republicans had a 60-40 House majority and a 37-13 Senate super-majority, the Senate labor committee chair coupled limits on teacher collective bargaining with teacher merit pay and state-funded vouchers for students to attend private schools. 121  In addition, teacher collective bargaining was limited to salaries, benefits, and total number of work days. 122

A. Public Employee Freedom Act

ALEC Summary:  “Excluded from National Labor Relations Act (NLRA),
public employees are subject to state and local laws governing collective
bargaining.  Many of these laws are ‘monopoly bargaining laws,’ which More →

Turning State Legislatures into Brothels

VLTP Op Ed by Bob Sloan

The Corrosive Effect of the Koch/ALEC Cabal on U.S. and World Governments

In a perfect world, we as citizens in a representative democracy would elect those who best represent our views on issues critically important in our lives.  In the context of that perfect world, our elected  representatives would work tirelessly pursuing legislation that would benefit their constituents and thus earn the respect of voters and ensure their re-election.  In America, this IS the basis that formed the foundation of our government.  Unfortunately, we do not have a “perfect world” with regard to those who represent us, far from it.  Today, we elect those who will take office and then essentially sell their votes to corporations and special interests which are not allowed to vote for elected officials in our democracy, wealthy or powerful entities in whose interest it is to keep these captured legislators in office, term after term.  Many elected officials take office and ignore the needs of their constituents in favor of the desires of corporations or special interests, and often ignore requests for legislation beneficial to the community they are supposed to represent– until those constituents are needed in subsequent elections, and sometimes even then officials count on voters not being aware how they’ve been sold out.

Some ask: how this has come to pass?  Who is responsible for undermining our democracy and corrupting our elected representatives? More →

The History of the NRA/ALEC Gun Agenda

by Lisa Graves at PR Watch

Here is a review of the NRA-by-way-of-ALEC gun agenda:

  • The retail sale of machine guns has been barred by federal law since the gangster era but, as uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), one year ago at ALEC’s “policy summit” in Arizona, the NRA obtained unanimous support from the corporate and lawmaker members of ALEC’s Task Force for “amending” ALEC’s “Consistency in Firearms Regulation Act” to expressly bar cities from banning “machine guns.” Other provisions of that bill prevent cities from banning armor-piercing bullets and from banning efforts to alter guns to make them more deadly if the state does not do so. It also bars cities from suing gun manufacturers for gun deaths based on the theory of liability used by governments to sue tobacco manufacturers for smoking deaths.
  • In 2008, as noted by CMD, in the aftermath of the tragic massacre of students and professors by a heavily armed Virginia Tech student, ALEC adopted a model bill to remove state prohibitions of guns on college campuses and to allow students to bring guns to class More →

Privatizing Government Services in the Era of ALEC and the Great Recession – Section II, ALEC

note:  this is the third in a series of articles published by the University of Toledo Law Review written by Ellen Dannin

PRIVATIZING GOVERNMENT SERVICES IN THE ERA OF ALEC AND THE GREAT RECESSION

II.   THE AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL (ALEC)

The American Legislative Exchange Council was, until recently, a little-known but very powerful and influential organization.  ALEC’s most important role is drafting model legislation. 20   According to ALEC, it “has nearly 1,000 pieces of model legislation.” 21   More than 200 of ALEC’s model bills were enacted in 2009. 22   Until April 17, 2012, ALEC’s model legislation was developed and promoted by nine national task forces.  On that date, ALEC announced that it was eliminating its Public Safety and Elections task force in order to focus on economic issues.23   The remaining task forces are Civil Justice; Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development; Communications and Technology; Education; Energy, Environment and Agriculture; Health and Human Services; International Relations; and Tax and Fiscal Policy. 24

According to ALEC, its task forces “also commission research, publish issue papers, convene More →