Today, behind closed doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, legislators from 15 states will meet with the oil and gas industry to discuss so-called “model legislation” as part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The result could be laws that handicap renewable energy targets — while creating loopholes for fossil fuels, written directly by the oil and gas industry itself.
ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.
Oil and gas corporations have a very strong role in politics through groups like Americans For Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, and, of course, ALEC. Four of the largest oil and gas corporations and two of the most profitable U.S. corporations overall, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP, sit on ALEC’s task forces. And so today, according to documents posted by Common Cause, representatives from these and other energy groups will discuss potential legislation that would undermine clean energy standards and limit regulations of polluting industries.
The agenda items illustrate ALEC’s objectives. An economist from the oil lobby American Petroleum Institute leads a discussion on oil and gas prices, and a few of the panels include, “The Dirty Truth Behind Reusable Bags” and “Resolution Supporting a Reasonable Compliance Timeline and Economywide Impact Study of EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.” Peabody Energy — one of the largest coal companies in the world — will give the presentation on “Regulation Through Litigation Of Greenhouse Gases Is Unsound Public Policy.”
ALEC already benefits from special exemption from some state laws: For example, South Carolina, Indiana, and Colorado have specifically exempted ALEC from lobbying status.
The oil industry’s astroturfing does not end with ALEC. Heartland Institute, part of the consortium of ultra-conservative think tanks leading a broad attack on clean energy, will also speak at ALEC’s meeting. Americans For Prosperity, funded by money from the Koch brothers, is also involved in Big Oil’s PR campaign against clean energy.
We have already seen oil dominating election ad spending this year, with well over $24 million spent by groups like Americans for Prosperity and American Energy Alliance since January. More than 80 percent of election year attack ads have focused on energy — all of them thoroughly debunked.