ALEC is plotting to take down state renewable energy targets
Cross-posted from Climate Progress.
Two leading conservative political organizations say they are stepping up coordinated efforts to repeal state-level renewable energy targets.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a “stealth business lobbyist” that works with corporate interests to help them write and implement “model” legislation — says it may soon start crafting laws designed to kill or weaken state targets for renewable electricity, heating, and fuels.
ALEC has come under fire in recent weeks for its support of voter ID laws and the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law that opponents blame for the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. After progressive groups began an aggressive campaign to educate the public about ALEC, 13 companies pulled their membership from the organization.
Last July, Bloomberg News acquired tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country.
Bloomberg now reports that ALEC is looking to take aim at renewable energy programs in states:
ALEC, a group of state lawmakers and corporations recently criticized for its support of Stand-Your-Ground laws highlighted in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin, may write model legislation for state lawmakers to repeal or weaken the mandates later this year, said Todd Wynn, energy, environment and agriculture task force director for the group, in an interview. Stand-Your-Ground laws allows citizens to use force when threatened, even when they can retreat.
The group may also develop an “energy freedom” index that ranks states based on regulation, market intervention and taxes.
ALEC has already attempted to write legislation [PDF] preventing targets for renewable energy on the federal level. As nothing substantive has happened nationally, it seems ALEC is now preparing to take its corporate-influenced legislation to the 29 states that actually have targets in place.
Along with promoting legislation to kill climate policies and renewable energy targets, ALEC also provided the framework [PDF] for legislation currently moving through the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating toxic coal ash.
According to the Center for Media and Democracy, Peabody Energy — the largest private coal company in the world — is a major underwriter for ALEC and sits on the organization’s Private Enterprise Board.
Americans for Tax Reform, the infamous anti-tax organization run by Grover Norquist, also says it is taking a more aggressive approach to opposing renewable energy targets. According to Bloomberg News, the group is urging its members to “speak out” against renewable energy promotion policies.
The organization has falsely claimed that such targets are costly to ratepayers.
In fact, no official analysis has found that state-level renewable energy targets specifically increase energy prices. While some states have seen increases in rates over the years, a recent analysis from the Center for American Progress found that clean energy targets had no statistically significant impact on those price changes.
Despite the real-world evidence that clean energy is increasingly cost-competitive and economically beneficial to states, the sector is under attack. The industry should be prepared for a more aggressive campaign from organizations like ALEC and Americans for Tax Reform on the state level.