Two ALEC Campaigns Exposed: One Kills Renewables, One Boosts Fracking

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

Now that the American Legislative Exchange Council—the "stealth business lobbyist" that offers corporations a seat at the table when state policymakers draft legislation—has been thrust the into the spotlight, it's abandoning some of its efforts and doubling down on others.

After major corporations like Pepsi, Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, and Coke all ditched the rightwing group, ALEC announced that it would abandon its drive to enact gun and voter ID laws. The group's decision came after a couple high profile campaigns were launched decrying ALEC's involvement in passing the 'stand your ground' laws.

But the group is actually stepping up its efforts in other arenas, as I noted last week. And two new reports, one from ProPublica, the other from DeSmogBlog, outline its new aims: dismantle legislation that incentivizes renewable energy generation, and preserve loopholes that allow natural gas companies to keep the chemical cocktails in their fracking fluids secret from the public.

First, ALEC is looking to undo the renewable energy mandates that 29 states have passed to ensure that an increasing percentage of their power supply comes from clean sources. Here's DeSmog first:

ALEC is also head-deep in promulgating fossil fuel industry-authored model legislation to dismantle, with one fell swoop, legislation promoting clean energy development.

“Nowhere else can you get a return that high,” ALEC has said on one occasion of the structure it has created to influence statehouses nationwide, referring to it as “a good investment.” A good investment indeed, particularly for fossil fuel corporations trying to take down a clean energy industry poised for rapid growth.

Bloomberg explains that dozens of states already have renewable energy mandate legislation: "Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., now have mandates, which, by requiring utilities to purchase energy derived from renewable sources, have helped provide a market for clean-energy technologies." Those programs, though, are now under severe attack by ALEC and the Grover Norquist-run Americans for Tax Reform.

"Opposition to the mandates coincides with the expiration of some federal incentives for renewables — many contained in the 2009 stimulus legislation. The repeal or weakening of state standards puts at risk an industry still dependent on government aid to compete with dirtier but cheaper fossil fuels…," wrote Bloomberg.

And, for ALEC's operation in the pro-fracking arena, we turn to Propublica:
[Fracking fluid] Disclosure requirements vary considerably from state to state, as ProPublica recently charted. In many cases, the rules have been limited by a "trade secrets" provision under which companies can claim that a proprietary chemical doesn't have to be disclosed to regulators or the public.

One apparent proponent of the trade secrets caveat? The American Legislative Exchange Council ... The New York Times noted that the group recently adopted "model legislation" on fracking chemical disclosure, based on a bill passed in Texas last year. According to The Times, the model bill was "sponsored within ALEC" by ExxonMobil, which runs a major oil and gas operation through its subsidiary, XTO Energy. The advocacy group Common Cause, which provided the documents on ALEC's lobbying efforts to The Times, describes model legislation, in many cases identifying by name the company that proposed it to ALEC's task forces.

So there you have it. ALEC is hard at work on behalf of the fossil fuel companies, pushing state-level legislation that undoes clean energy progress and lets fracking companies keep their toxic chemicals secret. No wonder the group is quickly becoming the most-hated conservative outfit this side of the Koch brothers.

Tags: Fracking | United States

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