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Wind and Solar Groups Flee ALEC

Green energy groups exit the powerful conservative outfit following its attempt to end mandatory use of renewable energy by US states

This article originally appeared in The Progressive

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.

alec poster Photo courtesy The Progressive

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire (subscription required).

Why? Last October, ALEC adopted the "Electricity Freedom Act" model bill. This model bill, which ALEC is now seeking to roll out in various states, would end requirements for states to derive a specific percentage of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

Given the gridlock on national legislation, renewable energy standards, which are typically passed at the state or local level, set targets for shifting from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy.

The Solar Energy Industry Association let its one-year membership expire last fall. The American Wind Energy Association let its membership drop in January.

Carrie Hitt, Senior Vice-President of State Affairs at solar association, told The Progressive: "We let our membership expire for two reasons: 1. The level at which we were participating was not have an impact on renewable energy targets; 2. We were disappointed by the process and outcome of the discussions around last fall's model bill. We were trying to reduce permitting fees, costs, and hurdles for renewable energy."

When asked if her association had any plans to renew its membership with ALEC, she responded, "We have no plans to renew our membership at this time."

Peter Kelley, the wind association’s vice-president for public affairs, told The Progressive: "We are accustomed to misinformation from opponents of renewable energy who are funded by competing forms of energy. State legislators who joined ALEC, presumably expecting reliable information, ought to know this is just an attack from business competitors of renewable energy that is not in consumers' best interests.”

As to the bill's attempted push-back on renewable energy standards, he said, it “makes no sense,” adding: “Wind is saving Midwest consumers billions of dollars a year. If state legislators are interested in defending consumers, they'll strengthen state [renewable energy] laws, not weaken them."

ALEC not only seeks to fight renewable energy standards, it also proposes and pushes the "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act.” That model bill says it is seeking balance in the classroom but it emphasizes “countervailing scientific and economic views on environmental issues.”

According to Desmogblog, the bill was adopted by ALEC back in 2000 and language from the draft bill has been introduced in 11 states and passed in four states, including Louisiana in 2008, Texas in 2009, South Dakota in 2010, and Tennessee in 2012.

The legislation is currently under consideration in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, HB 1674 demands that both the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories" are taught. Furthermore, the bill argues that global warming is "steeped in controversy,” despite the fact that consensus exists among the scientific community about its reality and urgency.

In Colorado, HB 13-1089 calls the bills the "Academic Freedom Acts." The bill notes that teaching global warming "can cause controversy."

In Arizona, SB 1213 was introduced on Monday, January 26, echoing the language of the other bills, stating the "teaching global warming" can "cause controversy."

All three current bills were introduced by representatives who are dues- paying members of ALEC.

 

Tina Gerhardt
Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers international climate negotiations, domestic energy policy and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly, as well as Business Green and Climate Progress.

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