Climate

At Least Four States Are Pushing Koch-Backed Legislation To Ban Funding EPA’s Climate Rule

CREDIT: AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Lawmakers from at least four states have introduced model legislation from the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) seeking to prohibit state funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to fight climate change.

On Thursday, Missouri state lawmaker Tim Remole introduced a resolution mimicking the text of AFP’s Reliable, Affordable and Safe Power (RASP) Act. Remole’s resolution “seeks to prohibit state agencies from using state money to implement EPA rules and guidelines,” specifically the EPA’s efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Nearly identical resolutions have also been introduced in Florida, Virginia, and South Carolina in 2015. Each one says the proposed limits on carbon emissions from power plants “will not measurably alter any impacts of climate change,” “conflicts with a literal reading of the law,” and would “effectively amount to a federal takeover of the electricity system of the United States.”

The sentiment in these resolutions would have to be included in actual bills to become a real law. But if they do pass, it would signify that the states have the momentum to move similarly-written bills through their Legislatures.

The RASP Act is a piece of model legislation written by AFP, a free-market group famously backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. AFP announced in December that it would “lead a large coalition of organizations” to push the RASP Act in states — organizations which include the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, right-wing think tank Heritage Action for America, and the Koch-backed American Energy Alliance. The model legislation is also being pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free-market lobbying group.

All four of those groups are active in promoting anti-climate and anti-clean energy policies. AFP and ALEC do so particularly through model legislation, which provides states with templates for bills and resoltuions. ALEC, for example, encourages state legislatures to limit renewable energy, oppose the EPA, and teach climate denial in schools. AFP has also led campaigns to try to get states to repeal their renewable energy standards, which require a certain amount of clean energy to be used in a specific state.

The RASP Act paints the EPA’s proposed climate regulations in a very negative light. It uses arguments from lawsuits currently pending against the rules, including that the EPA has no legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas rules because general air pollution from power plants is already regulated. In contrast, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that the EPA is allowed to regulate greenhouse gases.

The resolution also states that the climate rules will have no actual effect on climate change. Indeed, no one regulation in any one country can be significant enough to stop global human-caused climate change. The EPA’s position is that, considering the United States is currently the world’s second-largest emitter and by far its largest historically, it’s reasonable to expect that other countries won’t take the huge step of reducing emissions until the U.S. makes a good faith effort.

Ironically enough, though the resolution argues against the rule because of its allegedly small impact on climate change, all of the organizations that are supporting it have cast significant doubt on the reality of human-caused warming. Remole himself, who did not respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment, has called it “disturbing” that the EPA thinks coal-fired power plants cause too much carbon emissions, “the product they allege has created global warming,” he said in a Facebook post.

There is at least one person who would likely be happy that states are considering these resolutions: Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell. Just last week, McConnell specifically advised all states to openly defy the EPA’s proposed climate rules by refusing to submit plans. If states can’t fund plans, they can’t submit them.