The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) celebrated its 40th anniversary this spring, but in 40 years, the organization that writes and pushes model legislation in state governments, has not seen the level of controversy it is embroiled in today. ALEC, funded by corporate sponsors, was established to advocate pro-business legislation. In recent years, it has become more interested in the right-wing social agenda than business.
The organization has written and passed model “stand your ground laws” in various states. It has written and is pushing anti-abortion legislation such as forced ultra sound laws, and TRAP laws that states are using to eliminate abortion clinics. These efforts have caused large consumer boycotts of companies that fund ALEC,
As ALEC comes under attack for its role in laws that have nothing to do with business, job creation, or the economy, many corporate sponsors have withdrawn from ALEC fearing consumer boycotts. Corporate giants like Coca-Cola, Walmart and General Electric have chosen to rescind their membership in the wake of recent controversy over certain ALEC model bills.
Now ALEC had decided to appease the climate change deniers and go after renewable energy. This pleases corporate sponsors like the Koch Brothers and Exxon. It probably does not do much to please the many large corporations that are concerned about climate change, and who are switching their operations to clean renewable sources of energy.
The latest move by ALEC is to go after the renewable energy standards (RES) enacted in 20 states. These standards require utilities to buy a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, and bio fuels.
These laws have worked to increase the amount of electricity coming from renewable sources. In fact, many states have already reached their initial percentage, and have increased the percentage required. California and Colorado are leading the way.
Who could be against these laws? The answer is coal companies, oil companies, frackers, and the companies that supply them. ALEC and the Koch Brothers have funded so-called think tanks to cook up fake studies that show that these RES laws are killing jobs, hurting consumers, and doing nothing to reduce carbon pollution. One of these studies came from the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI).
Most of the claims in that and other studies have been discredited by legitimate scientific studies.
Despite a well financed effort to kill RES laws, ALEC and the Koch Brothers have not been successful thus far. The National Resources Defense Council reports that more than 45 RES-weakening bills were introduced during 2013 legislative sessions, not a single one of them passed. Instead, 14 new, pro-renewable energy bills have become law nationwide.
Climate change denier organizations are running ads in various states exhorting citizens to repeal renewable energy standards “before it is too late.” For the first time, ads like these are being countered by ads taking the other side, encouraging the continuation of clean renewable energy.
Conservation groups are even running ads attacking climate change deniers in Congress like Colorado’s Mike Coffman. The fact that the environmental groups are fighting back, and have the money to run ads shows how the politics of climate change and green energy are shifting. The days of oil, gas, and coal companies getting away with scare tactics and phony science may be coming to a close.
This will not stop ALEC from trying so long as the Koch Brothers keep throwing tens of millions of dollars at them. The problem for ALEC is that the people opposed to its marriage to the NRA and carbon polluters will force other corporate sponsors to bolt. This will make ALEC nothing but a front for polluters and manufacturers of devices of death. This is not a sustainable place for any organization to be given the changing demographics of the nation.
Keep an eye on this battle over the next few months.