ALEC

Halliburton/Koch Brothers lobbyist has cozy ties with North Carolina’s fracking commission

  • Posted on: 15 May 2014
  • By: JesseColeman

 

Fracking North Carolina:

In North Carolina, Halliburton and other fracking industry interests helped write a fracking chemical disclosure bill.  But when that bill ended up requiring disclosure of harmful chemicals to the state environmental agency, the bill was killed and replaced with one that further limited disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking.

cache of emails obtained by Greenpeace has revealed the cozy relationship between the hydraulic fracturing industry and North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission.

The Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) was set up after an errant vote by a state senator legalized fracking in North Carolina. Because the state had not seen oil and gas drilling in recent history, the Mining and Energy Commission was tasked with writing oil and gas regulations, specifically for fracking. The 15 members of the MEC propose regulations for fracking, which are then passed on to the North Carolina legislature to be turned into law.

Emails and meeting schedules from members of the North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission reveal how various fracking companies and national lobby groups, including America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), Energy in Depth (EID), Halliburton, and Koch Industries, influenced the Mining and Energy Commissioners, in regards to disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.

Halliburton’s Hand

Halliburton has played a significant role in shaping potential fracking regulations in North Carolina. In March of 2013, the Commissioners approved a chemical disclosure bill in committee which would have required fracking companies to disclose to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the chemical ingredients in fracking fluid, many of which are extremely toxic. However, Halliburton, a major fracking services company, raised some reservations which killed the bill, as AP reporter Michael Biesecker confirmed:

In an interview with AP, Mining and Energy Commission Chairman Jim Womack acknowledged that before deciding to delay the vote, he spoke with a senior Halliburton executive.

Jim Womack
Jim Womack

“They indicated to me in a phone conversation that there may be other options than what was written in that rule,” Womack said.

The bill was taken off the agenda by Womack, and sent back to be rewritten by the chemical disclosure committee.
Commissioner Womack himself is not worried about water contamination from fracking. He once said:

“You’re more likely to have a meteorite fall from the sky and hit you on the head than you are to contaminate groundwater with fracking fluid percolating up from under the ground.”

Halliburton has always cast a long shadow over the MEC. Commissioner Vikram Rao was at Halliburton for over 30 years, ultimately as the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.  He maintains a significant financial stake in Halliburton, and also has over $10,000 invested in BioLargo, a company involved in disposal of fracking wastewater.

Rao has also called the idea of disclosing the contents of frackfluid “a joke.”

Documents obtained by Greenpeace also reveal that the shale industry was close with one commissioner in particular.

George Howard, the pro-fracking conservationist

George Howard
George Howard

George Howard serves as vice chairman of the MEC, and as the chairman of the chemical disclosure committee, which is tasked with creating regulations for frack fluid and other fracking chemicals. He was appointed by North Carolina’s Senate President Pro-Tem Philip E. Berger to serve in one of two “conservation” slots on the MEC. Berger received $46,700 in campaign contributions from fracking interests between 2009 and 2011.

In his tenure as Mining and Energy Commissioner, George Howard has been a strong proponent of hydraulic fracturing. He has said that public fears around fracking are exaggerated and that responding to public pressure is “pandering.” He has also claimed “it is physically impossible for hydraulic fracturing – the full industry term for fracking – to contaminate underground aquifers.”

In addition to serving as commissioner for the MEC, Howard is the founder and CEO of Restoration Systems, an environmental remediation company. Through Restoration Systems, Howard has a significant financial stake in the fracking industry, including a multi-million dollar shale play project in Pennsylvania. Howard has also invested in the area of North Carolina most likely to be leased by fracking companies.

Howard is connected to other top regulators, especially John Skvarla, the Head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), who was president of Restoration Systems before becoming an environmental regulator. DENR would be the agency responsible for enforcing fracking laws recommended by the MEC.

Halliburton/Koch Industries Lobbyist Pushed ALEC fracking bill

Documents obtained by Greenpeace include correspondence between George Howard and various representatives of the oil and gas industry during the creation of the first chemical disclosure bill. Howard had multiple meetings with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and spoke with high-ranking members of the American Natural Gas Association (ANGA). Howard specifically requested help from Energy In Depth (EID), an oil and gas front group run by the PR firm FTI Consulting and funded by the fracking industry. Howard asked Steve Everley, the spokesman for EID and an FTI Consulting operative, to help him prepare for a MEC meeting on chemical disclosure.

Bo Heath
Bowen Heath

Although George Howard met with and solicited information from multiple shale industry groups, one lobbyist was particularly influential.  Bowen Heath, who represents Halliburton, Koch Industries, and various other oil and gas interests for the lobbying firm McGuireWoods, had unparalleled access to the Commission. Emails reveal a chummy relationship between George Howard and Heath, who spent evenings together and went for beers in the afternoons.

Heath used that access to advocate for a fracking chemical disclosure system that allows generous exemptions for chemicals that companies deem “trade secrets.”

Heath provided a fracking chemical disclosure bill  to Howard that the shale industry and its political allies previously passed in Colorado. The Colorado bill was based on a model bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded group dedicated to passing legislation approved by ALEC’s corporate funders, including fracking companies like Chesapeake Energy. Bo Heath has longstanding ties to ALEC, and has attended ALEC annual meetings.

A New York Times investigation found that the Colorado chemical disclosure bill was the handiwork of one ALEC funder in particular, ExxonMobil.

As part of the push for the ALEC fracking bill passed in Colorado, Bo Heath arranged for Colorado ex-governor Bill Ritter to fly down to North Carolina to meet with George Howard and the MEC. The AP confirmed that Ritter’s fees and expenses were not paid by the MEC, and Bo Heath’s lobbying group refused to comment on Ritter’s funding.

Hallmarks of the ALEC fracking bill include generous exemptions from disclosure for “trade secrets,” and reliance on the FracFocus website for disclosing chemicals to the public. FracFocus’s operational costs are paid for by the oil and gas industry lobbying groups American Petroleum Institute (API) and America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). FracFocus was found to be “severely lacking” as a regulatory tool by a recent Harvard study.

Heath continued to advocate for the industry/ALEC approach to chemical disclosure, and even brought in a key member of FracFocus, Mike Paque. Paque is the executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC). The GWPC has long been an ally of the oil and gas industry, receiving funding from the American Petroleum Institute and other industry affiliates. Reports produced by GWPC are the backbone of the oil and gas industry’s claims about the safety of fracking. The GWPC also runs  the FracFocus website, and advocates for its use.

Taking up his drinking buddy's suggestion, George Howard selected Paque as an expert witness for the MEC. Paque presented the industry-funded FracFocus website in an unrecorded meeting on December 18, 2012.

The New Bill Further Limits Disclosure

In the end, even though the bill that George Howard passed through committee was shot down by Jim Womack and Halliburton, it contained most of what Bo Heath and other industry lobbyists wanted. It used the API, ANGA funded website FracFocus for disclosure of chemicals, and exempted chemicals deemed trade secrets from being disclosed to the public on that website. However, Halliburton killed the bill because it required disclosure of all chemicals to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The new bill, which has passed through the MEC committee and is headed for ratification in the State House of North Carolina, included a requirement to use the FracFocus website, following the ALEC fracking model legislation passed in multiple states. And like those states, trade secrets are not disclosed the state, or the public.

Known Associates: 
Industry: 

$830,000 Dirty Dollars Fuel the Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee

  • Posted on: 22 February 2016
  • By: Connor Gibson

A wolf pack of in-state utilities and out-of-state petrochemical billionaires has attacked Ohio's clean energy law, threatening to kill clean jobs and wreak further damage on the environment.  

This attack is led by Ohio state Senator Bill Seitz (R), who five years earlier voted for the law, but after accepting dirty energy money compared the law to Stalinism.   The latest step to stall and dismantle clean energy incentives is the so-called "Energy Mandates Study Committee," or "EMSC." The EMSC was established after previous failed attempts by Sen. Seitz and other Ohio Senators to repeal or weaken the clean energy law.

The EMSC's recent decision to indefinitely stall laws promoting clean, efficient energy and the jobs they produce, is a power grab by coal utilities paying dropping campaign contributions in exchange to the gutting pollution-free clean energy jobs in Ohio. 

A review of Ohio campaign finance data reveals some of the money behind these politicians' attack on successful clean energy incentives:

Quid Pro Coal: Dirty Energy funding to Ohio politicians on the "Energy Mandates Study Committee"

Data courtesy The National Institute on Money in State Politics - FollowTheMoney.org

Ohio Politician

ALEC?

Utility Industry

Coal Mining

Oil & Gas

TOTAL 

Rep. Ron Anstutz X $83,100 $35,200 $90,686 $208,986
Sen. Bill Seitz X $79,125 $25,350 $20,425 $124,900
Sen. Cliff Hite X $50,085 $2,990 $64,855 $117,950
Rep. Kristina Roegner X $62,950 $2,150 $28,400 $93,500
Sen. Troy Balderson X $43,400 $2,450 $30,200 $76,050
Sen. Bob Peterson   $31,650 $3,600 $14,850 $50,100
Rep. Christina Hagan X $24,280 $2,050 $21,900 $48,230
Rep. Louis W. Blessing, III X $37,578 $1,200 $3,350 $42,128
Rep. Jack Cera   $11,000 $1,350 $9,200 $21,550
Rep. Mike Stinziano   $16,150 $0 $2,700 $18,850
Sen. Sandra Williams   $14,700 $500 $250 $15,450
Sen. Capri Cafaro   $12,200 $1,000 $0 $13,200

GRAND TOTAL

 

$466,218

$77,840

$286,816

$830,874

 

ALEC, Clean Energy, and Rigged Markets

The EMSC is stacked with politicians linked to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate bill-mill whose state legislator members help dirty energy lobbyists forge laws rolling back clean energy incentives. Some of ALEC's top "private sector members" include Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody, and Duke Energy.

At recent ALEC meetings, many of these companies sent their lobbyists to rub elbows with state politicians and create template laws in meetings closed to the public. ALEC facilitated the creation of several model bills intended to trip up the booming clean energy industry.

Legislators violate ALEC's core mission of promoting "free markets," giving their fossil fuel sponsors a pass and attacking incentives for their clean competitors at the expense of human health, clean air, clean water and a stable climate. ALEC's cookie-cutter attacks on clean energy have taken various shapes in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas and a dozen other states.

Quid Pro Coal - What Lobbying Looks Like

Public emails recently published by Energy & Policy Institute show Sen. Seitz recruited help from utility lobbyists as he crafted SB 58.

The utilities gave the bulk of $466,218 to 12 politicians on Sen. Seitz's committee, documented above. This includes companies directly coordinating with Sen. Seitz, according to his emails.

Ohio utility companies -- FirstEnergy, American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource, AES subsidiary Dayton Power & Light, and the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives (OREC) -- were directly solicited for input on Seitz's clean energy freeze bill, SB 58, a placeholder bill that preceded Sen. Seitz's study committee. See this timeline, courtesy of Energy & Policy Institute.

Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives is part of a massive consortium of smaller-scale electric co-ops called the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). NRECA is the top contribution to national politicians among all dirty energy interests, even outspending Koch Industries PAC. NRECA's Ohio affiliate gave Sen. Seitz $4,250 in 2012. The next year, OREC lobbyists helped write Sen. Seitz's bill, SB 58, telling a Seitz staffer, "As we discussed,nbsp;attached is suggested language for inclusion in SB 58 with slight modifications."

No such opportunities were provided to clean energy advocates in communication with Sen. Seitz, including several small businesses, the Sierra Club and affiliates of unions like the Steelworkers and AFL-CIO. 

Seitz repeatedly dismissed an Ohio State University study, commissioned by Ohio Advanced Energy Economy (OAEE), a group of Ohio businesses advocating for clean energy in Ohio. OAEE President Ted Ford warned Senator Seitz in a letter:

"[W]e can report that the results [of SB 58] are worse for ratepayers than we initially thought. The Ohio State University Study (version 2.0) finds that the bill is a massive giveaway to Ohio utilities, and would cost consumers almost $4 billion between now and 2025. The study also finds the standards have already saved Ohioans 1.4% on their electric bills."

A handwritten note on the letter, apparently written by Senator Seitz, says "more complete fabrications from people with zero credibility." The letter and handwritten commentary were circulated by a Seitz staffer to lobbyists at Duke Energy, American Electric Power, First Energy and others.

Seitz shot back a letter to OAEE and the Ohio Sierra Club, loaded with questions attacking the credibility and relevance of their data, also sourced from the Ohio State University Study. 

It turns out, Sen. Seitz prefers his data from out-of-state universities, financed by none other than Kansas billionaire Charles Koch.

Koch University, Inc. - Utah State University

Ohio's coal-burning utilities aren't the only interests helping Seitz behind the scenes. The ALEC senator's study committee relied on data using dishonest measurements from professors at Utah State University (USU) in a department that has taken over $1.6 million from Charles Koch since 2005. USU is among the Charles Koch Foundation's top-funded universities.

It begs the question: Why would Ohio politicians look to Utah professors, financed by a Kansas billionaire, for the data on Ohio's clean energy and efficiency efforts?

The Koch-funded Institute for Political Economy at USU has produced a series of reports that give politicians the bad data needed to attack clean energy. The Koch professors are USU, like the Suffolk professors before them, appear to be intentionally misleading. Foundations affiliated with Koch Industries have backed these Utah professors in identical attacks on renewable energy standards, in Kansas and North Carolina.

Disproved data aside, USU professor Randy Simmons hid his financial conflicts of interest in a national op-ed for Newsweek. 

These aren't the only Koch-funded professors stepping up to the plate to bat against wind. Before Utah, it was the Koch-funded Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University. And recently, Kansas University Professor Art Hall was caught taking payments from Koch to study the Kansas renewable energy standard, not long before he told the Kansas legislature to erode the incentives. Hall's previous job: Koch Industries' chief economist.

Koch Industries' executives are pushing "fake it till you make it" into the unknown.

Why the Freeze Makes Zero Sense

It's not the affiliations that matter so much as the false data and backwards hype involved.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the U.S. wind energy trade association, has revealed basic flaws in all three of these Koch-funded professors' reports out of Utah State University. AWEA's Michael Goggin:

Instead of only going back to EIA’s 2013 renewable cost estimates like they did in their Kansas report, in their Ohio report they go back to 2008 cost data to develop their estimate of how the cost of wind energy compares against alternatives.

No explanation is provided for why they did not use EIA’s more recent 2015 and 2014 data, which show that wind energy imposes no net cost relative to conventional sources of energy even after removing the impact of federal incentives. Of course, the authors could have also used recent data from real-world market prices and found that wind energy provides significant net benefits for consumers, as we did above. Instead, using obsolete data allows them to miss how the cost of wind energy has fallen by more than half over the last five years, as documented by both government and private investor data.

Jobs, lower energy bills, less wasted energy...frozen by Senator Seitz

Samantha Williams at Natural Resources Defense Council surveys the data that Senator Seitz refuses to accept:

As of 2013, Ohio was home to over 400 advanced energy companies that employed over 25,000 Ohioans and was leading the country in the number of facilities manufacturing components for wind technology and second in the number of solar equipment providers. A report by the Pew Charitable trusts shows Ohio attracted $1.3 billion in private clean energy investment from 2009 to 2013. Similarly, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) reported that, just prior to the passage of the SB 310 clean energy freeze, Ohio's clean tech economy had grown to support 89,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, much of that hard-earned momentum was a casualty of the freeze as well as HB 483, which basically tripled setbacks for wind turbines and made future commercial-scale development unviable.The renewable sector is particularly lagging, in the E2 report showing a scant 1.5 percent job growth in Ohio far lower than the national wind and solar rate.

Pancake Politics: They Liked this Law in 2008

Sen. Seitz voted along with a large majority of Ohio lawmakers in 2008 to pass the clean energy law. Five years later, Seitz was comparing the clean energy law to "Joseph Stalin's five-year Plan." 

Ohio is in the midst of a fossil-fueled flip-flop.

Industry: 

Connecting the Anti-Environmental Movement and the Oregon Armed Occupation of National Wildlife Refuge

  • Posted on: 7 January 2016
  • By: kert

Last weekend when an armed group of men in eastern Oregon occupied building within a National Wildlife Refuge to protest the jailing of a rancher for Federal crimes, we immediately went to the Anti-Environmental Archives to do some research.  Lo and behold, the Archives contain lots of documents about the location, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and lots of information on the decades long conflict between ranchers like Dwight Hammond who want to run their cattle into protected areas and Federal authorities seeking to uphold the law and protect the area from despoliation. 

The Refuge, home to millions of migratory birds, was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Starting in March, according to the Fish & Wildlife Service website, visitors will see the annual torrent of "greater sandhill cranes, tundra swans, northern pintails and white-fronted, snow, Ross' and Canada geese...American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, western grebes, long-billed curlews, and American avocets" along with numerous songbirds.  Must be something to see and hear. Meanwhile, there are a few non-migratory armed thugs in cowboy hats.

We published the Anti-Environmental Archives in April 2015, a catalog of thousands of original documents published by and about the groups involved in the Wise Use Movement. You can search the Archives for yourself here.  

Much of the media coverage of the Oregon situation has been light on the long history of anti-Federal government agitation in the West.  Some reporters have described the “Sagebrush Rebellion”, the resistance to Federal control of Western lands that originally dates back to the early 1990s and was emboldened by the Reagan Administration and Interior Secretary James Watt.

Missing from coverage is mention of the pro-logging, pro-ranching, pro-mining Wise Use Movement, which escalated in the early 1990s during the Clinton Administration.  These local fights eventually led to the election of such extremists as Representative Richard Pombo (Republican of California) who authored a book titled “This Land is Our Land: How to End the War on Private Property” in 1996.  The most memorable was over the protection of the endangered Spotted Owl in western Oregon and Washington state, which restricted logging of old growth timber.  But the fight with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing "rights" was at the heart of Wise Use conflict.  In fact, Western ranchers are recipients of the one of the largest federal welfare programs, (~$500 Million in taxpayer money in 2014), getting below-market-value leases to public lands to graze their cattle.

Much of the reporting on the armed occupation in Oregon has also failed to go very deep on rancher Dwight Hammond, the inspiration for the protest that begat the armed occupation of the refuge last weekend.  Its important context that Hammond has been war with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and federal authorities going back to the 1970s, that he was arrested in the early 1990s for blocking a fence being built on the Refuge border.  These incidents were well before the 2001 arson, for which they were convicted and for which Hammond and son are now in prison. Thus the Hammonds became hero/martyrs of the Wise Use Movement more than 20 years ago.  

The right wing media is playing this like a righteous fight against the oppressive Federal government.  The racial hypocrisy in press coverage of this mess is not unnoticed. Will we see a Republican candidate make anti-environmental anti-Federal land ownership promises?

*****

Here is a Anti-Environmental Archives folder of all the documents mentioning Dwight Hammond and some examples of what's inside:

·      This fundraising tear-out for Hammond’s cause in Autumn 1995 newsletter "The Private Sector/ Wise Use Memo.

·      Another appeal for funds to help the Hammonds with legal fees

·      An ad in the local paper for rally for the Hammond’s cause dated August 10, 1994, with guest speaker Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, one of the ringleaders of the Wise Use Movement.

The Bundys aren’t found in our archive but their fight with the Federal government also stretches decades, cut from the same mold as a long line of Wise Use anti-federal government extremists.

Then there is Ken Ivory and the American Lands Council, the leading voice of the modern wise use/ property rights/ federal lands movement.  He has been working with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and groups in various states pushing initiatives to return Federal land to states or to private hands.

The interlace between the Wise Use Movement and the “militia movement” was also a topic of research in the 1990s after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building ...Anti-environmentalists found kinship on anti-Federal government sentiments at militia movement meetings across the country, which sprung up starting around 1993.

And the beat goes on...

Further Resources:

Greenpeace Guide to the Anti-Environmental Movement (1993) - profiles of prominent corporate-funded front groups fighting against environmental protection.

High Country News just published a nice history “Forty years of Sagebrush Rebellion”

Jon Krakauer wrote a piece about the Wise Use Movement in 1991 for Outside Magazine

Andy Rowell’s 1996 book, Green Backlash

David Helvarg’s 1997 book, War Against the Greens

New York Times Op-ed 1/6/2016 by Nancy Langston “In Oregon, Myth Mixes With Anger”

Industry: 

ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson has a Climate Science Problem (VIDEO)

  • Posted on: 4 December 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson

The third and final meeting of the year for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) just wrapped up in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week.

On the day of ALEC's board meeting, Greenpeace attempted to ask ALEC's board of directors and executives about climate change science. ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson was not keen on speaking to us.

ALEC has a long history of denying climate change. It continues to take payments from fossil fuel companies like Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Energy. It was part of the American Petroleum Institute's leaked plan to manipulate the public's trust in climate scientists, spelled out in an eerie memo from 1998.

The group even hosts privately-funded events where ALEC legislators are taught how to deny climate change science by public relations consultants who have ties to fossil fuel companies.

As for Lisa Nelson, she is on the board of a Libertarian think tank that promotes solutions to climate change. The Niskanen Center was named after the late co-founder of Charles Koch's Cato Institute, whose recent death led to an attempted coup of the organization by the Koch brothers. Some of Niskanen's staff are former Cato executives, who now support a carbon tax, perhaps the most viable policy solution to global warming. This has caused a rift between the Libertarian purists and the Koch network's hacks-for-hire, like Pat Michaels, the disgraced climatologist at Cato.

Since Ms. Nelson  has taken the helm of ALEC, she has lost over a dozen corporate members. Some of those companies--Google, SAP, and Shell--even condemned ALEC specifically for peddling doubt over climate change in their statements explaining why they have abandoned the lobbying group.

[UPDATE: Since publishing, ALEC was abandoned by American Electric Power (AEP), a major U.S. coal-burning utility that has even lent staff to help govern ALEC's anti-environment task force. AEP states that ALEC's interference with the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is the reason they are leaving. AEP remains a member of the utility trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, itself a member of ALEC.]

Ms. Nelson has inherited a big problem. After decades of helping companies lie to legislators about climate change, the companies themselves and many of their front groups will no longer deny that humans are responsible for unnatural climate variability. But ALEC legislators have not received the memo, and if you ask them about climate change, they sound woefully uninformed. Almost as if they were paid to.

More to come on that.

 

Dirty Corporations Pay Big to Host ALEC Legislators in San Diego

  • Posted on: 24 July 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson
-- By Nick Surgey of The Center for Media and Democracy and Connor Gibson of Greenpeace
 
At the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2015 annual meeting in San Diego, California, dirty energy companies and their supporters--including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Duke Energy--continue to dominate the funding of activities, according to a list of conference sponsors obtained jointly by the Center for Media and Democracy and Greenpeace.
 
 
At the top of the agenda, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke to ALEC delegates over breakfast on Thursday. Walker is now campaigning on a promise to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if elected President in 2016, a plan which was earlier debated by ALEC at its December 2014 conference and is in line with ALEC’s long-term legislative agenda.
 
At ALEC conferences and meetings, rhetoric against the EPA--and in particular the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution--is frequently extreme.
 
ALEC sessions have repeatedly featured overt denial of climate change science. During recent ALEC conferences, legislators have been called upon to engage in “guerrilla warfare” against the EPA and at another session instructed to bring about a “political tsunami” to block pollution controls.
 
After Google chairman Eric Schmidt accused ALEC of "literally lying" about climate change on NPR in September 2014, a fleet of companies ditched ALEC, from oil giants like BP and Occidental Petroleum to software and tech firms like Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, and SAP--the company which chaired ALEC's corporate board.
 

Opposing Action on Climate Change

 

On the agenda during the San Diego closed-door meeting of the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force are numerous new attempts to undermine efforts to tackle climate change.
 
The proposed ALEC model "Environmental Impact Litigation Act," based on a law passed in North Dakota in 2015, would allow coal, oil, and gas companies to pay into a fund for the state to sue against a number of key federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act. This law, if passed, could be used to allow coal companies to fund state lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan.
 
Of the 54 identified corporate sponsors, twenty-two are energy related firms, their front groups, or firms representing energy interests. Most notable among the sponsors is ExxonMobil, which just last week told the Guardian that it isn't sponsoring climate change denial groups, including ALEC specifically. ExxonMobil is among the top sponsors of ALEC's 2015 annual meeting, and Exxon's Cynthia Bergman remains on ALEC's corporate board.
 
Below are financial underwriters of ALEC’s meeting, taking place at one of the largest resorts on the West Coast, along with the rates from another document obtained by CMD, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
 
The corporations and amounts listed here are just part of the funding picture for ALEC
 
These amounts do not include other money corporations pay ALEC in membership fees, or additional fees to participate on ALEC task forces, for which lobbyists receive a seat and a vote alongside legislators in setting the ALEC agenda. It also does not include money spent by corporate lobbyists at special parties for lawmakers or state delegations at some of the most expensive restaurants in San Diego, nor money spent by some of the corporations to fund the trips for state lawmakers to San Diego for what ALEC has dubbed “scholarships.”
 
 

ALEC's 2015 Annual Meeting Sponsors

 
Dirty energy interests & front groups in bold
 
*Asterisks indicate membership on ALEC’s corporate board of directors
 
 

President's Level - $100,000

 
Reynolds American Inc (RAI--tobacco company)
 

Chair's Level - $50,000

 
American Electric Power (AEP)
AT&T*
Balanced Energy for Texas
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)
Cigar Association of America
An Inquiry into The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States* (new book by Travis Brown & ALEC board member Stephen Moore, ALEC advisor Art Laffer, and Missouri political financier Rex Sinquefield)
DentaQuest
Luminant (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
PhRMA*
State Policy Network (SPN)
Citizens for Self-Governance
 

Vice Chair's Level - $20,000

 
Altria (Phillip Morris tobacco parent company)*
American Bail Coalition*
Diageo*
Encore Capital Group (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
ExxonMobil*
Guarantee Trust Life (GTL)*
Collaborative for Student Success
Texas Automobile Dealers Association (TADA)
Takeda
UPS*
 

Director's Level - $10,000

 
Astellas Pharma
Breitling Energy
CenterPoint Energy
Chevron
Crown Packaging
Duke Energy
Excelsior College
K12*
Oncor (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
Pfizer
Ryan (tax services company)
Time Warner Cable
 

Trustee's Level - $5,000

 
Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR)
Capelo Law Firm
Devon Energy
FedEx
The Graydon Group LLC
Bright House Media Strategies
Piedmont Natural Gas
Renovate America
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
Tenaska Capital Management
Texas Alliance of Energy Producers
Texas Cable Association
Texas Medical Association
Texas Association of Builders
Texas Business Roundtable
Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA)
Texans for Lawsuit Reform
The Schlueter Group
Texas Strategy Group
Texas Star Alliance Energy Solutions
 
For the full page of corporate logos sponsoring the ALEC conference see here.
Industry: 

ALEC Climate Change Denial: A Touchy Subject

  • Posted on: 6 April 2015
  • By: Connor Gibson

Here's a headline you might expect to see on Reddit's "Not The Onion" page:

Washington Post: This conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial — and is fighting back

The "conservative group" is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a lobbyists' policy factory, where corporations vote as equals on "model bills" with state legislators.

The Post notes that ALEC takes issue with the label "climate change denier," after the group's work doing just that led to the departures of major corporate supporters. Two organizations got letters from ALEC's lawyers, insinuating there would be legal action taken for accurately describing ALEC's legacy of denying climate change.

If you want to see how ALEC's own member politicians, lobbyists, and materials deny the science of climate change, check out ALECClimateChangeDenial.org. It's in their own words, so they may have to send a Cease and Desist letter to themselves.

For the record, Greenpeace's feelings are a bit hurt we too didn't get a warning. Did you not see our years of work to expose ALEC's climate change denial? 

ALEC may have ignored us, but ALEC's member corporations haven't. Companies ranging from Google to BP to eBay to Northrop Grumman have recently dumped ALEC. Google's chairman said ALEC is "literally lying" about climate change in a surprise announcement to abandon the lobbying group on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.

This isn't the first time ALEC got turned away at the dance. In the past, ALEC has faced mass corporate defections for its role in spreading lethal Stand Your Ground gun laws across the country and for disenfranchising legitimate voters with "Voter ID" legislation. Over 100 companies have ditched ALEC.

Together, lobbyists and lawmakers create fill-in-the-blank laws to hide chemicals used in fracking (for ExxonMobil), attack renewable energy incentives in the name of "Electricity Freedom" (for The Heartland Institute's corporate clients), and create red tape around the President's plan to reduce carbon pollution from coal plants (for polluters represented by the Edison Electric Institute), and many many more examples of promoting fossil fuels, attacking clean energy competition and denying the science of climate change.

ALEC may be nervous with the attention its operations are getting. ALEC's own lawyers have written about their precarious relationship with IRS tax law, acknowledging they would need to spin off a sister organization and register some staff as lobbyists in order to avoid potential action from the IRS that could affect ALEC's tax-exempt status. For ALEC's member corporations, that's a big deal - it's unclear what liabilities they would face if ALEC's nonprofit status was revoked.

Common Cause - one of the organizations to get these legal threats from ALEC over the "climate denial" exposure - has submitted detailed complaints to the IRS documenting how ALEC operations likely violate their nonprofit status. So far, the IRS has failed to do its job and walk into the shadows of ALEC's operations, where there is every indication that ALEC has crossed the line.

So no hard feelings, Common Cause. You're probably getting the legal letters because ALEC would rather have you arguing about climate science that their questionable relationship with the IRS. Joe Bast ALEC climate change denialJohn Piscopo ALEC climate change denialLisa Nelson ALEC climate change denial

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Five Questions on Climate Change for Lisa Nelson, ALEC CEO

  • Posted on: 21 October 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

From Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes. Universal Press Syndicate, 1993, via Circle Squared.

Written by Kert Davies - former Research Director of Greenpeace USA - crossposted with permission from Climate Investigations Center: Five Questions on Climate Change for Lisa Nelson, ALEC CEO.

Five questions reporters might ask Lisa Nelson, ALEC CEO on climate change and energy:

1. YOUR PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE SCIENCE?

Lisa Nelson, you stated recently that you “don’t know” the science of climate change.

Q: What is your plan to further inform yourself on climate change?

Q: What sources of information will you be seeking and what questions about the science of climate change are you seeking to answer first?

Note: Nelson answered to National Journal “I don't know the science on that" when asked specifically whether human emissions are the primary driver of climate change.”

2. ALEC’s POSITION ON CLIMATE CHANGE?

Q: Will you be seeking advise and counsel from ALEC’s Board of Directors, Private Enterprise Advisory Council, Board of Scholars or Private Sector Members to clarify ALEC’s position on climate change in the wake of Google and other recent corporate departures?

Notes: ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling was recently quoted saying ALEC doesn't have a position on climate science anymore than a policy “jelly beans”, a strange analogy for a crucial issue of our times.

Lisa Nelson said on Diane Rehm: “To be clear: ALEC has no policy on climate change, and does not take positions without underlying model policy. " Yet the organization's September 24th letter to Google stated ALEC “Recognizes that climate change is an important issue...” However, the ALEC website is more direct yet equivocal on the scientific basis: “Global Climate Change is Inevitable. Climate change is a historical phenomenon and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions.”

Which is it?

3. ALEC SPONSORS CONTROL OF MEETING AGENDA?

There are many events (luncheons, workshops, etc.) held during ALEC conferences.

Q: How much control do sponsors have over session topics and speaker selection? Have the Heartland Institute or CFACT indeed paid ALEC to hold sessions about climate change during your meetings? Or did ALEC request that they hold these briefings?

4. BALANCED “EXCHANGE” ON CLIMATE SCIENCE?

ALEC stated in its September 24th Letter to Google that it “just hosted a roundtable conversation for a variety of companies—including Google—on this very issue.”

Q: Will you provide evidence of this “roundtable” and what companies were present?

Note: There was a Google presentation within the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force session of the July annual meeting, but specifically on the subject of Google's renewable energy goals, not climate change.

5. ALEC OPPOSITION TO SUBSIDIES FOR FOSSIL FUELS AND NUCLEAR ENERGY?

ALEC maintains positions against government mandates and subsidies which backstop the organizations opposition to renewable energy targets.

Q: Given ALEC’s emphasis on free markets and subsidies, does the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force plan to pass model legislation limiting fossil fuel and nuclear energy subsidies and corporate welfare?

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ALEC's Lisa Nelson Doesn't Know ALEC's Climate Change Position

  • Posted on: 3 October 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

Lisa Nelson, the new CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, doesn't know her organization's position on climate change.

In a segment on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show, ALEC's Lisa Nelson claimed to not understand the science of climate change, and said, "We as an organization, specifically do not comment on climate change."

Funny enough, just a week before, ALEC posted its "Position Statement on Renewables and Climate Change," in response to heightened attention to its role in denying climate change.

The surge of attention is due to recent and very public departures by Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo and even Occidental Petroleum, specifically citing ALEC's backwards work on climate change.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said people working for ALEC are "literally lying" about global warming, announcing that Google's staff didn't wish to continue supporting such work (after Google's failed attempts to get ALEC to support clean energy).

ALEC's history of climate change denial runs deep. In addition to blocking policy solutions to global warming, ALEC helps to smother competition of clean energy industries for its fossil fuel company members, specifically working to repeal state clean energy standards and impose fees on "freerider" homeowners who feed excess energy back into the electrical grid from their solar panels. Most recently, ALEC has called for "guerrilla warfare" against the Environmental Protection Agency's first rule to limit carbon pollution from U.S. power plants.

ALEC is a dating service for lobbyists and state legislators. It helps corporations write model bills that its legislator members then introduce in states around the U.S., tax free for its corporations. Its operations are kept secret from the public.

ALEC staff are sensitive to the fact of how its lobbying for corporate clients violates its false claims of promoting "free markets." In fact, ALEC doesn't care about free markets.

As Greenpeace has documented, ALEC has no bills to remove handouts or subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and plenty of bills promoting oil, gas and coal projects. Meanwhile, ALEC has no bills promoting renewable energy projects and plenty of bills attacking incentives for clean energy.

Confronted on this contradiction, ALEC stays mum, consistent with its pattern of avoiding public accountability.

Dominion: Dump ALEC! Protesters Confront Polluters on ALEC's Home Turf

  • Posted on: 5 September 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson
Yesterday, about 80 clean energy advocates visited the Arlington, Virginia office of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to protest its dirtywork for polluting companies like Dominion Resources, a major utility in Virginia.
 

Click here to add your voice: tell Dominion to Dump ALEC!

Brandishing small wind turbines, banners and posters calling on Dominion to sever ties to ALEC, noting the company's role in causing climate change. Many protestors are Dominion customers out of necessity, due to market monopolization, and are demanding that Dominion make wiser investments with the royalties they provide as customers.
 
Here are some photos, Courtesy of Oceana's Caroline Wood. Greenpeace was among the supporting organizations, led by Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Black Youth Project, Food & Water Watch, Oceana, and Progress VA.
 
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Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille
 

 

ClimateProgress author and Physicist Joe Romm.
ClimateProgress author and Physicist Joe Romm.
 

 

A student activist named Priscilla advocates for quality climate science education.
Oceana Volunteer Priscilla Lin advocates for quality climate science education.
 

 

Jonathan Lykes of the Black Youth Project (BYP100) urges activists to practice unity among movements for economic, racial and climate justice.
Jonathan Lykes of the Black Youth Project (BYP100) urges activists to practice unity among movements for economic, racial and climate justice.
 

 

Ivy Main, Chair of Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
Ivy Main, Chair of Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
 

 

Protestors Engage Traffic Before the Event
Protestors Engage Traffic Before the Event

 

 
The following guest speakers urged for action on climate change, clean energy development, unity across movements, and racial and economic justice:
  • Bill Euille - Mayor of Alexandria VA
  • Joe Romm - Physicist and Founder of Climate Progress
  • Jonathan Lykes - Co- Chair Black Youth Project 100, D.C. Chapter
  • Jorge Aguilar - Southern Region Director at Food & Water Watch
  • Priscilla Lin - Recent graduate of William and Marry College and Volunteer with Oceana
  • Ivy Main - Chair Sierra Club Virginia Chapter and member of Virginia Governor’s Climate Commission
  • Seth Heald - Vice Chair, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Building Pressure on Dominion to Dump ALEC:

This protest is the latest in ongoing calls for Dominion Resources to sever ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Alexandria Mayer Bill Euille wrote an op-ed in the Fairfax Times, encouraging readers to "to join me in Crystal City at the Sept. 4 rally calling on Dominion to sever its ties with ALEC." Shareholders have filed resolutions at Dominion's last annual meeting, and formally requesting increased commitment to addressing climate change and disassociation from ALEC, citing climate change denial and complaints to the IRS about ALEC's potential tax status violations. Of nine ALEC member utilities contacted by Greenpeace earlier this year, Dominion was one among three that continued to stand by ALEC. Why all the pressure and protest? ALEC is currently helping dirty energy companies wage "guerrilla warfare" against the country's first rule to curb climate pollution as part of a decades-long effort to deny climate change science and block policy solutions. In recent years, ALEC's coal and oil company members have used the shadowy lobbying group--through its state politician members--to attack incentives for clean energy and penalize homeowners who install their own solar panels. ALEC infamously labeled such people "freeriders on the system."
Despite being repeatedly pressed by Greenpeace on how ALEC upholds its "free market" slogan when it consistently attacks clean energy incentives while advancing fossil fuel industry interests, ALEC staff have not been able to account for the contradiction:
 
 
Leading this charge within ALEC is the Edison Electric Institute, the primary trade association for utility companies like Dominion and Duke Energy. Todd Wynn, a climate change denier who previously directed ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, is now working for Edison Electric Institute. EEI remains a primary voice within ALEC's anti-environmental task force, which on churns out model policies to undermine pollution safeguards and stunt the growth of clean energy development. Not accountable to customers, lobbyists like Wynn at EEI provide some political cover for its utility members like Dominion, Duke Energy, and Arizona Public Service, all of which have ignored calls to dump ALEC and have acted aggressively against distribute generation solar energy--homeowners and small businesses taking steps to become energy independent.

@PolluterWatch Live Tweets from the Protest:

 
 
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Heartland Institute Climate Change Denier James Taylor PWND on TV

  • Posted on: 20 May 2014
  • By: Connor Gibson

James Taylor, lawyer for The Heartland Institute who claims he's "a scientist by training" because he took college science classes, despite having no degree in science.

(Not an internet nerd liek the author? Check out what "pwn" means...)

SHOWTIME's Years of Living Dangerously series just aired a segment featuring James Taylor, a lawyer who has been paid to confuse the public over the reality of climate change, its causes, and its impact on humanity. The Heartland Institute, where James Taylor works, is know for alienating its corporate supporters by comparing people like you and me--assuming you recognize the reality of climate change--to the Unabomber, Charles Manson, and Osama bin Laden.

I wish I was joking, but I'm not.

The joke was on James Taylor, last night. Taylor made an easily disprovable boast to America Ferrera, claiming, "I'm a scientist by training as well," apparently in addition to his law degree. See a teaser of that interaction here:

When pushed for an explanation--since Taylor holds no degree in science--he misrepresents himself:

"I successfully completed Ivy League atmospheric science courses, so I'm a scientist by training."

Who'd would've thought? Apparently if we all want to be scientists, we just need to take a course or two in science!

That means there must be thousands, perhaps millions of people in this country who qualify as scientists in James Taylor's world. Unless, of course, you have to take your science classes at the Ivy Leagues--I'll follow up with Taylor about that and let you know what he thinks.

After trying to spin his lack of expertise as full credentials, Taylor invokes the long-debunked "Oregon Petition" as supposed proof against climate change, despite the petition's inception as a tactic of the fossil fuel industry, its lack of climate experts as signatories, and its inclusion of fictitious characters like the Spice Girls.

As Lisa Graves at the Center for Media and Democracy explains in the Years of Living Dangerously segment,

"The scientific evidence is really against them, but they say things so boldly and stridently that it makes some people believe that they must be telling the truth."

She's right. It has to take a lot effort, creativity and sheer willpower to make a career pretending the obvious does not exist.

Imagine if The Heartland Institute's staff spent their time and money working on real solutions to these problems. Imagine if people like Koch and Murray felt the inevitable need for a shift, and put their skills as businesspeople into solutions-based entrepreneurship.

Unfortunately, these fossil fuel executives would rather fight against inevitable future trends, just like the Tobacco industry fought tooth and nail against scientific evidence of the dangers of smoking. In fact, The Heartland Institute continues to wage Big Tobacco's campaign. Check out this recent video of Heartland's president, Joe Bast, caught in an embarrassing contradiction of his own claims denying the health impacts of smoking:

The Heartland Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity and other fossil fuel industry front groups have united to kill incentives for wind energy in Kansas. Affiliated under the banner of the State Policy Network, these groups have also coordinated against clean energy in states like North Carolina and Ohio, where dirty energy giants may score a victory against renewable industry jobs.

So far, most of the State Policy Network attacks on clean energy have failed. As Years of Living Dangerously examines in Kansas, leasing land for wind farms has benefited farmers like Pete Ferrell, who faced impossible economic conditions from recent extreme droughts, made worse by climate change, leasing land to the wind industry has provided crucial income.

Because of farmers like Pete, and blue-collar wind workers and other citizens who are pleased with getting energy from sources that doesn't poison their air, water or climate, Kansas politicians have now defeated attacks on renewable energy incentives three times in the last two years. More are likely to come, as companies like Duke Energy and Peabody coal don't want clean energy competitors, while executives at Koch Industries and Murray Energy Corporation still combat the science of climate change with the finance of misinformation.

That means we will continue to see people like James Taylor, popping up on our TV sets and our state legislatures, lying about whatever he's paid to lie about. Keep your eyes peeled.

james taylor heartland institute climate change energy

Heartland Institute lawyer James Taylor, as illustrated in Greenpeace's report on climate change deniers: "Dealing in Doubt"

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