The Heartland Institute

Southeast leads in creating clean-energy manufacturing jobs, but will politicians kill the momentum?

Clean energy and clean transportation projects are helping drive the U.S. economic recovery, and green business is particularly booming in the Southeast.

But will politicians kill the momentum?

That’s the question raised by a report released last week by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), which found that in 2012 companies and communities nationwide announced more than 300 clean energy and clean transportation projects expected to create 110,000 jobs. E2 is a coalition of environmental-minded business leaders that’s affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

E2 map of green energy jobs createdThe Southeast led the country in manufacturing-related clean energy job announcements, E2 reported. There were more than 13,700 such jobs announced last year — about 80 percent of the nation’s total. Most of those were related to the solar, advanced vehicles and wind energy industries.

California led the nation in clean energy project announcements, followed by North Carolina and Florida. Texas was the other Southern state among the top 10.

Noting that state policies have helped drive the clean-energy industry’s growth, E2 Executive Director Judith Albert raised concerns about efforts to derail those policies.

“If lawmakers care about creating good, clean energy jobs in their neighborhoods, they should continue supporting those policies,” she said. “If not, they can sit back and watch these good-paying jobs go elsewhere.”

Albert pointed to efforts by groups and lobbyists backed by the fossil fuel industry to repeal state renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS), which require utilities to generate a certain percentage of power from clean sources.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an influential group that brings together state legislators and corporate representatives to draft model legislation promoting conservative policies, has launched an initiative to repeal REPS through its model “Electricity Freedom Act.” ALEC is working alongside other fossil fuel-funded groups including the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and Americans for Tax Reform, and the Kansas REPS law was their first target.

In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to establish a REPS and is now one of 29 states with such laws. But state Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), chair of the House Public Utilities Committees and an ALEC member, has said he intends to introduce a bill during the legislative session now underway to repeal North Carolina’s law, which requires a modest 12.5 percent of all electricity sold in the state by 2025 to come from renewable sources.

It’s unclear how North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) would react if such a bill were to make its way to his desk. McCrory spent 28 years working for Duke Energy, which says it generally supports renewable energy standards as a way to “help our country transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.” McCrory continues to hold substantial investments in the company.

McCrory has also been supportive of the wind energy industry, promoting it as part of his “all of the above” energy policy.

“There is a lot of interest in North Carolina right now for clean energy,” said E2 member John Robbins, president of Greathorn Development Corporation in Concord, N.C., which is working with airports to cuts energy costs with solar power. “For all the right reasons, clean energy is growing in North Carolina — and it’s creating jobs and boosting our economy along the way.”

(For a larger version of the map from the E2 report, click here.)

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This article is written by Sue Sturgis and is published at http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/03/southeast-leads-in-creating-clean-energy-manufacturing-jobs-but-will-politicians-kill-the-mo

institute for southern studies

Putting an End to the ALEC/Heartland Myth that Renewable Energy is too Expensive

The Washington Post recently published an excellent piece of investigative journalism in which they found that the Heartland Institute has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an effort to reverse state renewable energy mandates across the USA.  ALEC is a highly controversial organization, essentially comprised of corporations which draft up legislation favorable to their interests, and then pass it along to legislators who will introduce and attempt to implement their bills in state legislatures and US Congress.

The Washington Post reports that ALEC has drafted the Electricity Freedom Act, which would repeal state renewable electricity standards (RESs), which require that a given state meet a certain percentage of its electricity demand with renewable sources by a certain date.  For example, California has an RES to supply 33% of its electricity demand with renewables by 2020, and overall 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) have RESs in the USA. A further 7 states have non-mandatory renewable electricity goals (Figure 1). More →

A Lot of White Space: Firms Drop Off ALEC’s Meeting Brochure

Very significant results of the ongoing campaign to make ALEC a toxic relationship for its corporate members.  Reported on by Lisa Graves of CMD and re-posted hereApparent among all of the excellent information she has provided, is the emergence of the State Policy Network (SPN) as perhaps the “heir apparent” to ALEC?  To find out a lot more about SPN, I refer you to Sourcewatch’s report on SPN’s finances, membership, and goals, which you can read by clicking here.
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…last year’s conference was filled with favorable press coverage and bankrolled by at least 82 private sector corporations were convention underwriters.

This year, only 36 corporations were willing to have their logos listed as paying for ALEC’s schmooze and booze affair. Not all 46 of those missing corporations have left ALEC, but dozens have fled the sunshine that CMD and other investigative journalists, advocates, and concerned citizens across the country have focused on ALEC and the power it has given to corporations to try to rewrite hundreds of laws across the United States.

The Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Us All

I was watching Rock Center on TV when it hit me.  The segment was about the problems that they are having in the farming sector in Alabama.  Now that illegal immigrants have fled, there is nobody to work the fields and do this back-breaking work, a fields are rotting away.  Reporter Kate Snow spent time looking at the human side of this story about immigration policy, and the temporary use of prisoners to harvest these crops.  But because of the reluctance/fear of calling out ALEC or any Koch Brothers actions in the conservative MSM (1), Ms. Snow’s segment fell far short of its informative potential.

Alabama cucumber farmer Jerry Danford grows cucumbers which are sold to pickle companies.  By the time his crop is pickled, processed, and reaches retail stores, it historically generates about $20 million annually in retail pickle sales. Danford accused Alabama politicians of not even bothering to interview farmers like himself who would be affected by the proposed immigration legislation when it was up for consideration.

Danford, a lifelong republican, is angry at republican lawmakers in Montgomery who passed perhaps the most severe immigration law in the United States. He’s angry with the leaders that supported the legislation for what he sees as a political move that hurts not only farmers like himself, but the economy of the entire state of Alabama.

Since the signing of Alabama’s immigration bill this past summer, Danford has watched many of the illegal immigrant workers he depends on to harvest his crop simply pack up and leave. He worries that come spring harvest–when a provision of the immigration law will be in effect requiring that employers check the immigration status of all workers – he will not have any workers to work his fields.  The immigrants’ crew chief says that he will not recruit Mexicans to work in Alabama in the future because they risk being fined, incarcerated, and deported

“I would like for these lawmakers to go out and get me a pool of labor,” says Danford. (2)

After the commercial break, Ms.Snow spoke with Alabama Governor Bentley about Danford’s concerns.  Bentley noted that there would be a short-term “adjustment” to the new labor force, but this strict immigration law will reduce Alabama’s unemployment rate, which, at 10%, is quite high.  Bentley acknowledges that illegal farm workers will leave the state (that is the intent of the law), but he is convinced that unemployed legal residents will replace them on farms like Jerry Danford’s.  And Alabamians will not have to break the unenforced Federal law any longer to run their farms.

Indeed Alabama has set up a web site to try and attract local workers to working on farms.  Reports Ms. Snow “On several visits to Alabama, we did find some native Alabamians willing to work in the fields.”  However, since then, all of the American workers had quit. (3)

Danford says that the governor is wrong.  Based, he says, on his lifetime of experience with local workers, “the people that you could get locally, they wouldn’t — regardless of what you offered them, within reason — they wouldn’t put in the long hours. It’d take probably three (of them) to do what two of the immigrant workers do,” he says.  “They’d want to be on break all the time, going to the bathroom, going to get a drink, or, you know, something. They just don’t have the initiative to work, just plain and simple.”  He goes on to say that local workers will show up for a day and then quit, assuming that they apply at all. (4) 

But what if he paid a higher hourly wage?  The going rate now is $10 an hour. “The [pickle] company wouldn’t buy it from you then,” he says.  “They’d turn to suppliers in other states where labor is cheaper — states that allow undocumented immigrants to continue working under the radar.” (5)

So what does the future hold for farmers like Jerry Danford?  Certainly less labor-intensive crops, but people and companies all the way up the supply chain from his fields to the retail stores that sell $20 million of pickles are all affected by Alabama’s new immigration control act.

And, it is notable that Snow reports that a new forecast from the University of Alabama estimates the law will cost the state economy at least $40 million in lost revenue overall.  (6)

Faced with rotting crops and angry farmers in this bad economy, the State of Alabama has stepped in and is providing prisoners to harvest the fields—as a short term solution.  For now it is a “short term” solution because as Think Progress reports that in Georgia where they had already tried this plan, “the probationers picking cucumbers couldn’t keep up with their Latino counterparts and had all quit by afternoon”. (7)

Personally, I am disgusted that “state Rep. Scott Beason who sponsored the Alabama immigration law refused a challenge to pick tomatoes just like the illegal immigrants who he thought could be replaced. (8)

Tomato farmer Leroy Smith, second from left, talks with State Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, in Steele, Ala. Only a few of Smith’s field workers showed up for work after Alabama’s new
immigration law took effect recently. (9)

 

And that’s what Kate Snow and Rock Center reported – the middle of this story. To understand the entire story in context requires that we see how this all came about.  After all, this is a blog about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The starting point of this story is the new immigration bill which Mr. Danford identified as the source of this problem.  Where did this bill come from?  This did not originate in the Alabama legislature.  This began in ALEC as model legislation 7K3 – The Immigration Law Enforcement Act.  This was approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors in June 2008, (10), and supplemented with model legislation 7K5, the infamous No Sanctuary for Illegal Immigrants Act (the almost word-for-word precedent to Arizona’s SB1070 Act). (11)

Alabama is one of 18 states implementing strict immigration laws.  While the U.S. Attorney General is taking the states (starting with So. Carolina) which have implemented their own immigration laws to court on constitutional grounds, these new laws are being enforced.  And who is going to take a shot at a fine, jail, and deportation when they can work elsewhere.

And in this manner the corporate members of ALEC who wanted strict immigration laws paid their money to ALEC and received their model legislation.

But there is the very important second issue in the Rock Center segment–prisoners being used for the harvesting of these crops.  I worry if this a sign of things to come, or is it just temporary as currently claimed?

This, in turn, takes us to the issue of prison privatization, a key goal of ALEC since 1994 due to the presence of CCA, Wackenhut (predecessor to GEO), and the ever-present Jerry Watson of the American Bail Coalition. (12)

But ALEC is far too professional to use only its own members to investigate opportunities and devise strategies.  As key members of the Koch Brothers’ “Cabal, they have access to excellent think tanks and research institutes.  One of those institutes was also founded by Paul Weyrich (founder of ALEC)—the Heritage Foundation.  As far back as 1988 the Heritage Foundation was studying prison privatization after CCA tried to privatize the entire prison system of Tennessee in 1985.  (Interestingly, the Heritage Foundation study concluded that they could not say if privatization would save a State any money.) (13)

Another Cabal member, The Heartland Institute entered the immigration policy conversation in 2008.  “The right to migrate is a key human liberty that ought to be subject to limits only as a last resort. But the failure of institutions in the U.S. to assimilate new immigrants is real, and it makes unlimited immigration a threat to our own freedom. Both sides in the debate have ‘freedom arguments’ on their side.” (14)

While the Heritage Foundation could not say for certain that prison privatization would save the States any money, the NY Times has concluded that it does not. (15)

“The largest private prison corporations, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have spent millions of dollars trying to convince federal and state legislators that privatization saves taxpayer money without sacrificing tight security and adequate conditions for prisoners. However, the evidence supporting this claim has been mixed at best. A study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that promised cost savings “have simply not materialized.” When cost savings are reported, they are often mitigated by private prisons’ tendency to refuse high-cost inmates.

“Even if cost savings were substantial, prison privatization is intrinsically incompatible with the supposed goals of the U.S. prison system. Private prisons have few incentives to pursue meaningful rehabilitation or reduce recidivism rates. In fact, they have a vested interest in the continuation of the United States’ incomparably high incarceration rates.

“In order to ensure a steady flow of inmates, and thus a steady flow of profits, private prison corporations lobby for “tough on crime” laws that lock up petty offenders for long periods of time and do little to curb crime rates. They have historically enjoyed close ties with state legislators through conferences hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which advocates harsh sentencing laws. At the conferences, corporations write “model bills” with legislators that have contributed to the escalation of mass incarceration.”  (16)

Envision prisoners in Alabama working outside doing back-breaking work that other Americans do not want to do.  Brings back memories of slave labor in the southern states for good reason.  Witness the article “Arizona Brings Back Slavery for Latinos”.  The embedded video from Cuentame spells the situation out very neatly:  “First, the state passes a harsh immigration law. Then, it detains large numbers of immigrants. Third, private prisons (LCS, CCA, GEO) receive fresh inmates. And finally, the artificially created labor shortage is supplied by the new inmates. Does this sound like modern-day slavery to anyone? (17)

That is also the ACLU’s stand.  “The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises.”  But it does not stand in the way of reality..  “Mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards”. (18)

I say “it does not stand in the way of reality” because ALEC and the Heritage Foundation set out to accomplish two goals, and brought them both to fruition – despite any opposition.  They created an industry and then created the infrastructure and manpower to fit.  Do you really think that this is a temporary measure, or is this the way it’s going to be—all around the country?  Do prisoners have human rights or do they forfeit them at the entrance to the prison? And just think, because of the conservative MSM, you are among the few who truly understand the problem.

Which makes you among the few who know what needs to be done to stop it.  Our group, The Voter’s Legislative Transparency Project is trying to set up a bus tour to travel around the country, stopping in as many cities as time permits, to hold full day teach-ins to assemblies wherever we stop.  Let people know about ALEC and the rest of the Koch Cabal, and show how they have been manipulating our country since 1973.  Teaching people to evaluate their candidates to see who is going to honor his/her oath of office, and who is going to be beholden to ALEC or to the Tea Party or even to…Grover Norquist?

[Note:  The title of this article, Taxes on the Farmer Feed Us All is from an 1897 song, reissued by Ry Cooder on his album Into the Purple Valley.  If you are interested, you can hear it performed by clicking here

Endnotes:
(1)http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/728866/rush_limbaugh_admits_the_media_is_conservativ/
(2), (3), (4), (5). (6) http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8760288-immigrant-workers-farmers-fearful-in-wake-of-alabama-immigration-law
(7), (8) http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/10/07/338922/alabama-prisoners-immigrants-farm-labor/
(9) http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/10/ala-weighs-using-inmates-as-farm-workers-to-replace-fleeing-hispanics/1  by Dave Martin, AP
(10) http://alecexposed.org/w/images/6/69/7K3-Immigration_Law_Enforcement_Act_Exposed.pdf
(11) http://alecexposed.org/w/images/2/2d/7K5-No_Sanctuary_Cities_for_Illegal_Immigrants_Act_Exposed.pdf
(12) http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/5904.pdf
(13) http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/1988/05/BG650-A-Guide-to-Prison-Privatization
(14) http://heartland.org/policy-documents/where-do-you-stand-immigration
(15) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/19/us/19prisons.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
(16) http://www.policymic.com/articles/2404/privatization-of-prisons-is-no-solution-for-overcrowding
(17) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/12/alabama-slavery-latino-immigrants?newsfeed=true
(18) http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration