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Three New Ways ALEC Will Push Its Fossil Fuel Agenda This Year

By Matt Kasper, Guest Contributor  

"Three New Ways ALEC Will Push Its Fossil Fuel Agenda This Year"

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alec-logo-smThe American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is not giving up the fight to dismantle popular clean energy laws across the country — despite completely failing in its last attempt.

As the organization convenes for its 40th annual meeting this week, documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy show that ALEC does not intend to back down from its attacks on popular clean energy measures. In the states where ALEC members sought to repeal or weaken clean energy standards, not a single bill passed this year. A record of 0 for 13.

Regardless, a memorandum sent from Todd Wynn, Director of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, detailing the task force’s agenda for the week reveals three new key approaches ALEC will use to try to continue pushing its fossil fuel interests and rolling back clean energy.

First, the memo revealed two new model bills titled, “The Market-Power Renewables Act,” and the “Renewable Energy Credit Act.” These bills are designed to allow other types of energy sources, such as large-scale hydropower or biomass, to receive renewable energy credits (RECs). The power generated by a large hydropower facility could then count towards the existing energy standard and effectively water down the law.

The bills are also designed to allow companies roll over their RECs to count for future years. Allowing this to happen will displace other types of renewables, like wind and solar energy, since companies will no longer have the incentives to build in states with these standards. This is crafted in a way to have the standard eventually eliminated.

Second, conference organizers held a discussion for ALEC members called “Local Bans on Hydraulic Fracturing: Coming Soon to Your District.” Over the past few years, many parts of the nation have been experiencing a boom in unlocking new reserves of oil and gas from shale formations — spurred by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Because this process requires large amounts of water, can contaminate drinking water with methane, is increasingly linked to earthquakes, and results in methane leakage, many local governments have mobilized to ban fracking. The oil and gas corporations in ALEC, therefore, have a vested interest in working with their state members to prevent cities from banning fracking — and hurting their revenue stream.

And third, the leaked agenda shows ALEC members attended a workshop titled, “The Economic Benefits and Political Challenges to Coal Exports.” And as domestic demand for coal decreases for both economic and climate-related reasons, coal companies are increasingly looking to push their product to overseas markets — so it’s no surprise coal companies in ALEC would want state lawmakers to make the exporting process easier. The U.S. exported 114 million metric tons of coal last year, a record high. Burning the coal exported by the U.S. in 2012 generated 292 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s equivalent to the average annual greenhouse gas emissions from 55 million passenger vehicles, or to 75 coal-fired power plants.

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