In an email to its supporters, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a national trade group for companies involved in solar energy projects, joined ALEC earlier this year to promote bipartisan energy policies, but has decided not to renew its membership. According to the email, ALEC "adopted a stance that intends to take us backwards. The fact is, Americans overwhelmingly support the growth of the solar energy industry and ALEC is clearly out of touch with the way Americans feel. We have not renewed our membership to ALEC and we will work with state legislators to push back on these efforts."
As a response to ALEC's challenge to Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policies around the country, SEIA encouraged its supporters to send ALEC messages supporting solar during its 2012 States & Nation Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.
ALEC Attempts to Roll Back Renewable Energy
As the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported, ALEC is involved in an effort to stamp out renewable energy mandates across the country. 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed renewable energy mandates in some form, and an ALEC bill called the "Electricity Freedom Act," penned by the rabid climate change denial group the Heartland Institute (according to the Washington Post), is now targeting those states.
Some of ALEC's most powerful members, like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Energy Future Holdings, Peabody Energy, and Duke Energy, are deeply rooted in extractive methods of energy supply from fossil fuels. All of these companies except Duke Energy are on ALEC's "Private Enterprise" corporate board of directors. All of them are on ALEC's Energy, Environment, and Agriculture (EEA) Task Force, in which these energy companies vote alongside state legislators to change environmental rules to expand the rights of polluters, and limiting regulation of greenhouses gases and other industrial activities, by:
- protecting polluting corporations from civil and criminal liability,
- opposing uniform rules on hazardous coal combustion waste,
- making the passage of state-level environmental regulations more onerous, and
- prohibiting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
ALEC's "Electricity Freedom Act" claims that renewable energy is "a tax on consumers." Todd Wynn, the director of ALEC's EEA task force, called renewable energy mandates "crony capitalist policies." That's rich, coming from a mouthpiece for an organization that many consider a poster boy for crony capitalism.
Big Energy Money Behind ALEC's D.C. Meeting
ALEC's most recent meeting in Washington, D.C. was sponsored by such big energy interests as American Electric Power, Edison Electric Institute, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Peabody Energy, and Virginia Uranium, Inc., according to a meeting brochure obtained by Greenpeace. It was also sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal industry front group. The EEA task force met on Thursday, with "model" legislation introduced including "The Energy Diversity, Affordability, and Reliability Act," "Authorization for Participation in Low-Carbon Fuel Standards Programs," "Resolution in Support of Electric Power Grid Modernization," and "Intrastate Coal and Use Act."
An Edison Electric Institute representative spoke to the EEA task force on "the importance of electricity grid modernization" at ALEC's Spring Task Force Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina in May 2012, so it is likely that Edison introduced the "Resolution in Support of Electric Power Grid Modernization." The "Intrastate Coal and Use Act" has been on the EEA task force agenda for over a year and, at least once, was tabled because its sponsor wasn't in attendance.
Green energy jobs in the wind and solar industries are a robust sector of the economy employing some 175,000 Americans, according to InsideClimate News. But despite that, EEA task force members were treated to a presentation suggesting that it is fracking that is "fueling a U.S. manufacturing renaissance." The presentation was given by none other than Roger Bernstein of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the trade association representing nearly 150 North American chemical manufacturers, with a $112 million budget. It not only battles the precautionary principle for chemical safety; it is also opposed to EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.
The Rush to Cut Ties to ALEC
SEIA joins four other non-profits and 42 corporations in cutting its ties to ALEC. Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC since the launch of ALECexposed.org and related public interest campaigns include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, General Electric, Western Union, Sprint, General Motors, Walgreens, Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard, MillerCoors, John Deere, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Procter & Gamble, Mars, Wendy's, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola. Four non-profits -- Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and the Gates Foundation -- and at least 70 state legislators have also cut ties with ALEC. In addition, as CMD has reported, 117 ALEC members were voted out of office in 2011 and 2012.
CMD and advocacy groups including Common Cause, ColorOfChange.org, Progress Now! affiliates, and Greenpeace are now asking State Farm, eBay, and Duke Energy to cut ties to ALEC. Credo Action, a project of Working Assets, is also calling on its supporters and customers to call eBay and urge the company to stop funding ALEC.