ALEC’s Top Five Anti-Environment ‘Model’ Laws

ALEC's paradise

by Stephen Lacey and Jessica Goad

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a “stealth business lobbyist” that helps corporations write state and federal legislation supporting their interests, has taken major heat for backing controversial laws.

More than a dozen companies — including Coca Cola and Procter & Gamble — have pulled out of the organization over the last month due to ALEC’s support of voter ID requirements and the Stand-Your-Ground law blamed by many for the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

While the controversy around these laws has been widely reported, ALEC’s efforts to help corporate interests cut down climate legislation, renewable energy, and environmental protections are only now being heavily scrutinized. Funded by coal and oil companies, ALEC has made it a priority to stop any changes to the fossil-fueled status quo.

Below, we document the five of the worst anti-environmental initiatives being pushed by ALEC.

Stopping a Price on Carbon
While calling into question anthropogenic climate change, ALEC has been trying to block carbon pricing for many years.  In 2010, while receiving tens of thousands of dollars from Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other large energy companies, the organization adopted a model resolution stating that “a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions.” The resolution was introduced by lawmakers in at least six state legislatures around the country virtually untouched from its original form.

Stripping Targets for Renewable Energy
ALEC has already written a resolution that would discourage states from participating in a nation-wide renewable energy target. With the possibility of getting such a target passed in Washington so slim, ALEC officials now indicate they will move their battle to states with existing targets. These laws have helped spur tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and have put the coal industry on the defensive. Not surprisingly, Peabody Energy — the largest private coal company in the world — sits on ALEC’s Enterprise Board and served as chairman of ALEC’s 2011 annual conference, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

Turning Over Public Lands to the States
Some state legislatures are considering laws that would require Congress to turn over millions of acres of public lands to the states — a move that could eventually open these lands up to extraction industries. The Republican governors of Utah and Arizona are currently considering such bills. The Associated Press reported that “lawmakers in Utah and Arizona have said the legislation is endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that advocates conservative ideals, and they expect it to eventually be introduced in other Western states.” A similar bill was considered in Colorado, and there are rumors that the legislation will also come up in Montana, Idaho, and New Mexico.

Watering Down Public Disclosure of Fracking Chemicals
A number of states are considering new regulations to deal with the rush of natural gas drilling, particularly for hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”  Many lawmakers and residents believe natural gas companies should be required to let the public know what chemicals are being pumped underground to help extract the gas. Some of the chemicals in facking mixtures are known or suspected carcinogens. In order to protect the industry from disclosure, ALEC has crafted legislation that would provide large loopholes for companies wanting to protect “trade secrets.” A disclosure bill currently being considered in the Illinois legislature uses ALEC’s language. According to the New York Times, the legislation was sponsored by Exxon Mobil.

Preventing Regulation of Toxic Coal Ash
In 2008, a storage pond filled with more than a billion gallons of coal ash spilled into a Tennessee community — decimating homes, polluting local water resources, and causing around $1 billion in damage. The incident sparked renewed calls for federal regulation of coal ash, a bi-product of burning coal that can contain high levels of arsenic and heavy metals. According to one investigation, coal ash can be more radioactive than waste from a nuclear power plant. But ALEC has crafted model legislation opposing any federal regulation of coal ash waste. And these efforts are reaching national politicians. Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new rules on storage of this toxic waste product.

ALEC is a strong force working behind the scenes to stop any meaningful action on climate and clean energy. This is just a small snapshot of the pro-polluter bills the organization has crafted over the years. With the largest, dirtiest energy companies funding ALEC, it’s clear who these “model” laws are designed to help.


9 Responses to ALEC’s Top Five Anti-Environment ‘Model’ Laws

  1. T.J. says:

    Their mission won’t be complete until every square inch of land is privately owned and the entirety of the land surface of the Earth is either city, strip mine or landfill, and not until all free flowing water is entirely unfit to drink(for any creature) and the air is only breathable with heavy duty filtered breathing masks. But Prosperity!

  2. mb jr says:

    these businesses is whats killing us. they just want the money and don’t care about what happens to our world. they just want money. they don’t strive to make a better life for future generations. they are just being selfish little b****** who want to take as much as they can without doing anything in return. they dont want to leave a footprint on the history of humanity. they want to take the land underneath it. this just leaves a hole that needs to be filled by future generations. — NO LIMITS —

  3. Maurice Webb says:

    Good stewards of the earth, these people are not. We need less pollution and more green energy.

  4. SeaKat says:

    I think that more properly their mission won’t be complete until our constitution is dismantled.

    They must be exposed and stopped at every available opportunity.

  5. Mark Shapiro says:

    AEC is anti-health, anti-environment, anti-democracy, anti-American, and probably criminal (a 501c3 doing lobbying).

    Other than that, no problem.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    We can tell that we are dealing with utter, absolute, evil because their demands are totalitarian. The Right opposes every environmental need, denies every environmental calamity, ceaselessly, and with increasing viciousness, slanders and vilifies environmentalists and resolutely refuses to give an inch, anywhere, ever. More to the point, as we in Australia are witnessing with the latest generation of far Right state regimes, they are winding back the meagre environmental victories of the last forty years. One example of the totalist mindset makes plain the Right’s move to absolute rejectionism. The expert committee investigating the health of our major river system, the Murray-Darling, recommended 4000 gigalitres of water be returned to the river to ensure its ecological survival. After a series of riots, book burnings and public displays of foul-mouthed intimidation by irrigators, urged on by the Rightwing MSM, the Labour Federal regime copped out and recommended 2750 gigalitres instead. The scientific community was unanimous that it was insufficient, but the hard Right ‘Liberal’ regime in Victoria simply rejected the need to return one litre to the river. Absolute, totalitarian, rejectionism-we’d better realise just what we are up against, quick.

  7. Enemy of the people.

  8. charlie says:

    I called Assembly Member Katcho Achadjian Rep office and relayed my displeasure with the Rep on this matter. Kevin, the staff member, accepted my statement, and assured me that Katcho was not participating in ALEC legislation any more and would most likely soon cut any ties. Also, Kevin informed me that Katcho had had no contact with ALEC-for whatever that’s worth. It would be interesting to know what response others get.

  9. Mississippi exchanged one Republican Governor for another. The only difference I can find is Bryant doesn’t have that fake southern twang. As for as their supporting the environment; they are both in the same boat. It won’t happen!