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Years of Living Dangerous Examines Climate Deniers & Kansas Wind Power

11:28 am in Uncategorized by Connor Gibson

 

Next Monday, SHOWTIME’s Years of Living Dangerously series will air an episode focused in part on wind energy in Kansas. Teaser clips posted by SHOWTIME review how wind energy has been a lifeline for farmers suffering from increased drought due to climate change, and interview fossil fuel industry lobbyists who are still peddling climate science denial in Kansas. Watch a teaser here: Years of Living Dangerously – Next on Episode 6

Wind energy is very popular in Kansas. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Kansas’ wind industry employs thousands of people each year as new wind turbines are rapidly constructed. Kansas currently has 800 megawatts of wind energy capacity under construction, on top of almost 3,000MW in existing capacity.

The news gets better, because Kansas has enormous potential for more clean energy growth. While Kansas is currently ranked 8th among US states’ current wind energy generation, it has the 2nd most potential of any state, after Texas.

Caricature of Climate Change Denier James Taylor

Climate Change Denier James Taylor

Don’t try telling that to James Taylor though. No, not the singer-songwriter, but the climate change denier James Taylor you see in the SHOWTIME teaser above. This obscure lawyer at The Heartland Institute has made his cozy career undermining public recognition of how serious global warming is, and fighting against policy solutions to climate change. Here’s how that works:

Fossil fuel companies extract, distribute and burn dirty energy like coal, oil and gas. These companies don’t like the explosion in clean energy competition, an industry that itself is a lot less explosive, corrosive and polluting (have you seen coverage of the massive, deadly coal mine disaster in Turkey??). Rather than innovate their companies to respond to the needs of the 21st Century, polluting companies like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody coal and Duke Energy are funding a vast, coordinated network of political front groups, fake grassroots organizations and lobbying firms to kill clean energy incentives in Kansas and other at least 14 other states.

Just two weeks ago, Kansas state politicians narrowly defended the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The RPS law is a major incentive for clean energy jobs, requiring utility companies to gradually phase in electricity sources that don’t exacerbate global climate change, or poison the air we breathe and the water we drink. As reported in the Washington Post, this attack on clean energy was the third within the last two years introduced by Kansas politicians affiliated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), backed by ALEC’s friends in the State Policy Network, like climate change deniers at The Heartland Institute, political heavyweights like Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers’ main political group, Americans for Prosperity.

SHOWTIME’s Years of Living Dangerously will take a closer look at how these front groups and politicians conspired against Kansas’ clean energy industry, siding with fossil fuel billionaire Charles Koch instead of the farmers and wind industry employees who are building the infrastructure of today’s energy landscape. Here’s a longer preview of SHOWTIME’s forthcoming episode about the effort to build wind energy in Kansas, and the fossil fuel industry-funded enemies of that effort: Years of Living Dangerously Season 1: Episode 6 Clip – Droughts

Crossposted from Greenpeace’s The EnvironmentaLIST: Years of Living Dangerously: Climate Change Denial and Kansas Wind Energy

ALEC Doesn’t Care About #FreeMarkets: Explaining ALEC’s Shill Bills

8:51 am in Uncategorized by Connor Gibson

Today in Kansas City, Missouri, the American Legislative Exchange Council is bringing your state legislators to a closed-door meeting with corporate lobbyists to ghostwrite “model” laws to bring to your state.

ALEC Logo: Limited Government, Free Markets & Federalism crossed out in favor of Corporate LobbyingAs usual, ALEC’s latest conference will be painted with patriotic rhetoric and all of the typical buzzwords: “free markets,” “liberty,” “Jeffersonian,” “Prosperity,”…you get the gist. But in typical political & public relations fashion, these words are a feeble shell obscuring an anti-populist, Big Business lobbying campaign.

The American Legislative Exchange Council doesn’t care about free markets. I know it says it does, and I know they’re Tweeting with the #FreeMarkets hashtag today, but ALEC doesn’t honor the concept by any means. This is easily proven by the extremely narrow range ALEC’s own pay-to-pollute policies.

A simple glance through ALEC’s catalog of dirty energy bills reveals a limited range of work serving the corporations and billionaires bankrolling its operations–not exactly a genuine libertarian utopia. Of ALEC’s 25 “energy” model bills, 24 serve fossil fuel interests and undermine clean energy, as documented in full below.

This may interest ALEC’s friends who actually do care about free markets, since ALEC actively works against the concept when its member companies demand so. Case in point: tea party and free market groups like Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed (TUSK) are pushing back on ALEC and its monopolistic utility members for attempting to impose fees on distributed solar electricity generation.

ALEC considers people installing solar panels on their rooftops and feeding extra electricity into the grid to be “freeriders,” and will host a luncheon today to discuss how ALEC legislators can help utilities and the Koch brothers make small-scale solar electricity generation more costly.

Greenpeace just confirmed that at least six utility companies quietly dumped ALEC in recent years. These utilities made no promise to maintain disassociation but responded with a rhetorical defense of their commitments to climate and sustainability initiatives, which is completely counter to ALEC’s ongoing work.

Undeniable Anti-Free Market Trend in ALEC’s Polluter Policies

ALEC has many bills in a few narrow categories that all expand power and government resources for fossil fuel and nuclear companies, complimented by model bills to stifle competition from renewable energy and fuel interests.

How many of these ALEC bills promote renewable energy or renewable fuels? How many ALEC bills propose repeals of coal, oil, gas or nuclear subsidies?

Zero.

The closest ALEC comes is a single model bill to exempt some energy efficient appliances from state & local sales and use tax focuses on consumer-level activity rather than broad systemic issues of infrastructure, pollution reduction, 0r science-based climate policy. This means 24 of ALEC’s 25 “energy” bills are handouts to polluters.

Here’s a rundown of ALEC’s dirty energy bills, which ALEC’s staff routinely characterize in order to sell these bad ideas to the American public. Check for yourself, and call out the only thing ALEC has ever recycled: dishonesty.

ALEC bills Promoting, Protecting or Expanding the Use of Fossil Fuel & Nuclear Fuels: 16

  • Power Plant Siting Actstreamlines coal & nuclear plant construction siting
  • Resolution in Support of Energy Security, Production, Distribution, Environmental Protection and Economic Growth in the United Statesurges Congress to offer special protection to the coal industry as clean energy growths creates more competition
  • Resolution on Mandatory Electricity Consumer Disclosure Informationurges Congress to forbid mandatory disclosure by utilities of their electricity sources. This would cut off consumers’ ability to make decisions about which types of energy they prefer. For instance, a consumer wouldn’t be able to access information on an energy source’s “nonpower attributes” like pollution, carbon intensity, and fuel type, and wouldn’t be able to chose which energy sources to support. This is a way for polluting companies to reduce attention to benefits of clean energy.
  • Resolution on Best Available Control Technology For Coal-Based Electric Generation“interprets” coal pollution control laws in ways that are more favorable to coal companies
  • Utility Construction Review Actwith key provisions of Construction Work In Progress (CWIP), this bill allows utility companies to charge their ratepayers for construction projects before the construction begins, placing financial burden and risk on consumers. CWIP is most commonly associated with prohibitively expensive nuclear projects.
  • Intrastate Coal and Use Actremoves federal environmental oversight of coal that is mined and used within a single state
  • Intrastate Oil and Gas Use Actremoves federal environmental oversight of oil & gas that is extracted and used within a single state
  • Resolution on Responsible Resource Developmenta resolution pressuring federal politicians and agencies to remain absent from oil & gas fracking oversight, placing all regulatory burden on the states, which lack capacity for safe oversight.
  • Resolution Requesting that the Federal Government Confer and Consult with the States on Management of Public Lands and Energy Resourcesone of ALEC’s model policies to decrease federal control of public land. Fossil fuel extractors generally have an easier time lobbying and obtaining land through state authorities where political resources are more limited.
  • Resolution to Retain State Authority over Hydraulic Fracturing – created to block pending US Environmental Protection Agency regulation of fracking by placing oversight with state regulators, who lack capacity for safe oversight.
  • Resolution Urging Congress to End the Outer Continental Shelf Moratorium on Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Productionputs state-level pressure on Congress to expand offshore oil drilling on the U.S. coastline and give states jurisdiction over offshore drilling near their coastal borders. ALEC “retired” this model bill at its December 2013 meeting in Washington, DC.
  • Pipeline Replacement and Infrastructure Modernization and Enhancement Actwould allow gas pipeline operators to replace pipes on the dime of electricity ratepayers
  • Resolution in Support of the Keystone XL Pipelinestate legislative pressure on Congress and the U.S. State Department to fully-approve TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada Pipelines is a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force.
  • The Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Actpushed through ALEC by ExxonMobil, this false “disclosure” bill actually serves to keep fracking chemicals secret from the public
  • Resolution Urging Quick Congressional Action on the Recommendations of The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Futurestate pressure on Congress and the Executive branch to fast track a non-permanent radioactive nuclear waste disposal locations
  • Resolution Urging the President and Congress to Act Expeditiously in Procuring a Site or Sites for the Storage of High-Level Radioactive Wastestate pressure on Congress and the President to hasten finding storage sites for radioactive nuclear waste

 

ALEC bills Promoting, Protecting or Expanding the Use of Renewable Energy & Renewable Fuels: 0

  • None.

 

ALEC bills to Undermine Clean Energy Incentives or Development and promote use of Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Energy: 8

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Valentine VIDEO: ALEC Is Duke Energy’s Corporate “Dating Service”

7:28 am in Uncategorized by Connor Gibson

Crossposted from Greenpeace’s blog, The EnvironmentaLIST.

Over the last four years, Greenpeace has made a Valentine’s Day tradition of spoofing the influence peddling of corporate lobbyists and captured politicians. This year’s installment embodies the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which reporters have characterized as a “dating service” for its role in pushing copycat, corporate-crafted laws through state legislatures.

This year, our PolluterHarmony story wrote itself. Online dating ads running on TV have featured a creepy middleman who plays third wheel on various peoples’ dates. In real life, ALEC is that creepy middleman, creating a tax-deductible process for companies to vote as equals with state politicians on bad laws that appear in legislatures around the country. This all happens with little to no disclosure, away from the constituents who elected ALEC’s member legislators.

This secretive attack on the public comes in many forms: privatizing education, weakening unions and public employee benefits, increasing gun violence, keeping legitimate voters away from the polls, denying climate change science, limiting the liability of corporations that harm people, and many other items on the Big Business wishlist.

Want examples? Check our humorous dating profiles (citing real-life events) on an ALEC senator in Ohio attacking clean energy incentives and an ALEC senator in Nebraska who was courted on a trip to the tar sands courtesy of ALEC, oil companies and the Canadian government.

ALEC has said that one of its top priorities in 2014 will be to make it harder for homeowners and businesses to put solar panels on their rooftops by introducing solar taxes on behalf of big utilities that are afraid of losing customers.

But thanks to increased public scrutiny, ALEC has struggled in recent years to avoid its own controversial shadow. ALEC’s own leaked documents confirm it has lost at least 60 corporate members and 400 legislative members, thanks to ALEC’s role in pushing Stand Your Ground laws and Voter ID legislation that keeps people with social minority status away from the voting booth.

While ALEC staff have given lip service to increased transparency, journalists like Washington Post’s Dana Milbank and Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll have shown how ALEC keeps its doors firmly shut on the public.

Even companies that are sticking with ALEC appear to be embarrassed by the association: Duke Energy has done all it can to not confirm renewed ALEC membership, ignoring repeated calls, emails and a 150,000-strong public petition delivered by a diverse coalition of organizations whose members don’t appreciate how ALEC’s bad policies make Duke appear two-faced.

Please share our video to help spread the word on ALEC, and send a message to state legislators at StandUpToALEC.org.

REPORT: Tobacco-style Climate Denial – Greenpeace’s “Dealing in Doubt”

11:08 am in Uncategorized by Connor Gibson

Written by Cindy Baxter, crossposted from Greenpeace: Dealing in Doubt.

Who likes being lied to by people paid by the oil industry who pose as “experts” on climate change?

Did you know it’s been going on for 25 years?

In a couple of weeks, the UN’s official advisors on climate change science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will update its global assessment on the issue. Yet in the background, more attacks on the climate science are underway.

For the last quarter century, the climate science denial machine, its cogs oiled by fossil fuel money, has been attacking climate science, climate scientists and every official US report on climate change, along with State and local efforts – with the aim of undermining action on climate change.

Our new report, Dealing in Doubt, sets out the history of these attacks going back to the early 90s. These are attacks based on anti-regulatory, so called “free market” ideology, not legitimate scientific debate, using a wide range of dirty tricks: from faked science, attacks on scientists, fake credentials, cherry-picking scientific conclusions: a campaign based on the old tobacco industry mantra: “doubt is our product”.

We give special attention to perhaps today’s poster child of the climate denial machine’s free market think tanks, the Heartland Institute, which is about to launch a new version of its “NIPCC” or “climate change reconsidered” report next week in Chicago.

Unlike the real IPCC, with thousands of scientists involved from around the world, the Heartland Institute’s handful of authors is paid. Several of them claim fake scientific credentials. They start with a premise of proving the overwhelming consensus on climate science wrong, whereas the real IPCC simply summarizes the best science to date on climate change.

This multi-million dollar campaign has been funded by anti-government ideologues like the Koch brothers, companies like ExxonMobil and trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute.

More recently, less visible channels of funding have been revealed such as the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, organization that that has been called the “ATM of the conservative movement”, distributing funds from those who don’t want to be publicly associated with the anti-environmental work product of organizations like the Heartland Institute.

In the last week we’ve seen new peer-reviewed science published, linking at least half of 2012’s extreme weather events to a human carbon footprint in the atmosphere and on the weather and climate.

As the scientific consensus strengthens by the day that climate change is happening now, that carbon pollution is causing it and must be regulated, the denial machine is getting increasingly shrill. But today, while they are being increasingly ignored by a majority of the public, their mouthpieces in the US House of Representatives, for instance, have increased in number.

They’re still fighting the science – and they’re still being funded, to the tune of millions of dollars each year, to do it.

Dealing in Doubt sets out a history of these attacks. We show how the tactics of the tobacco industry’s campaign for “sound science” led to the formation of front groups who, as they lost the battle to deny smoking’s health hazards and keep warning labels off of cigarettes, turned their argumentative skills to the denial of climate change science in order to slow government action.

What we don’t cover is the fact that these organizations and deniers are also working on another front, attacking solutions to climate change. They go after any form of government incentive to promote renewable energy, while cheering for coal, fracking and the Keystone pipeline.

They attack any piece of legislation the US EPA puts forward to curb pollution. Decrying President Obama’s “war on coal” is a common drumbeat of these anti-regulation groups. One key member of the denial machine, astrophysicist Willie Soon from the Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, has portrayed himself as an “expert” on mercury and public health in order to attack legislation curbing mercury emissions from coal plants.

This recent history, as well as the prior history of denial by the tobacco companies and chemical, asbestos and other manufacturing industries, is important to remember because the fossil fuel industry has never admitted that it was misguided or wrong in its early efforts to delay the policy reaction to the climate crisis. To this day, it continues to obstruct solutions.

The individuals, organizations and corporate interests who comprise the ‘climate denial machine’ have caused harm and have slowed our response time. As a result, we will all ultimately pay a much higher cost as we deal with the impacts, both economic and ecological.

Eventually, these interests will be held accountable for their actions.