Press Release

NRDC: ALEC Conference's Agenda For State Lawmakers Is “Limited Government, Unlimited Pollution”

On Eve of ALEC Conference for Lawmakers, Issue Brief Outlines Radical Group’s Agenda to Gut EPA and State Environmental Safeguards; 111 Groups Urge State Legislators to Shun ALEC and Its Pro-Pollution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 2, 2014 -- When state lawmakers gather in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States & National Policy Summit, they will be asked to embrace a climate-science denying, pro-polluter agenda “to gut basic health and environment safeguards,” including shutting down the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to an issue brief released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Available online at http://docs.nrdc.org/legislation/leg_14112601.asp, the NRDC brief underscores the full scope of the ALEC agenda.   The brief notes:  “Burned by the defections of high-profile corporations over its dirty energy policies, ALEC concocted a new mission statement to ‘promote a healthy environmental legacy.’ Of course for ALEC, this means relying almost exclusively on corporations policing themselves, even though history demonstrates that government intervention is often required to correct market failures and account for pollution externalities … And despite this new mission statement, none of ALEC’s model bills actually aims to reduce pollution or protect the environment.”

Also today, 111 leading national, state and grassroots organizations issued a joint letter urging state lawmakers across the U.S. to “publicly reject ALEC’s efforts to shape (or misshape) state legislation. Specifically, we ask that you not affiliate with ALEC and that you encourage your colleagues to cut ties as well.” Signers of the letter include the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, Environment America, Union of Concerned Scientists, Interfaith Power & Light, Mom’s Clean Air Force and AFSCME.  

Commenting on the ALEC policy summit agenda, David Goldston, director, Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “Not a single item in ALEC’s agenda would reduce pollution or protect the environment. They only work to reduce safeguards and protect the polluters.”

David Doniger, director, Climate and Clean Air Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “ALEC’s motto should be, ‘Limited government, unlimited pollution’.  ALEC’s attacks on the Clean Power Plan prove it represents only dirty energy and cares nothing for the millions of consumers who would save on their electric bills and hundreds of thousands of new jobs that will come from more reliance on clean energy.”

Bill Holland, state policy director, League of Conservation Voters, said: “A recent Hart Research poll found that swing state voters were significantly less likely to support climate-denying candidates or those protecting subsidies to big oil and the Koch brothers. It’s no wonder that ALEC hides its own efforts to deny climate science and protect fossil fuel monopolies at the expense of cleaner air and clean energy jobs.”

The joint sign-on letter from the 111 groups reads, in part, as follows: ALEC is pushing to weaken or repeal state renewable energy and efficiency standards, to reduce financial incentives to adopt rooftop solar, and to undermine EPA's efforts to limit carbon pollution from power plants. ALEC does not support any policies that would move toward solving the climate crisis. As part of its public relations effort, ALEC has falsely stated that the Natural Resources Defense Council supports policies similar to ALEC's. NRDC has issued a statement that ALEC is making false claims about its positions. ALEC is attempting to deny its own climate change denial, in order to maintain its influence in state legislatures, and is pressing for an agenda on behalf of unnamed corporations. We urge you not to be taken in, but instead to take the steps called for in this letter.”

Highlights of the NRDC issue brief on the ALEC conference agenda include the following:

  • Abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency.  “The most extreme proposal on ALEC’s December agenda would abolish the US Environmental Protection Agency. ALEC has a long history of opposing EPA’s environmental safeguards, but this new attack is a major escalation against the environment. This draft resolution urges Congress to disband the EPA, slash the environmental protection budget by 75 percent and instead convene a committee of 300 state agency employees to make recommendations about which environmental standards to eliminate.  This radical proposal would undo more than 40 years of environmental progress and public health protections that have allowed our economy to thrive while protecting our air and water.”
  • Blocking carbon pollution standards for power plants.  “At the conference, ALEC aims to finalize two new model policies attacking EPA's Clean Power Plan by creating legislative obstacles for states to comply with the new carbon pollution standards.  The first model bill aims to create excessive red tape to delay and block a state’s plan to reduce carbon pollution by requiring an unnecessary legislative vote of approval before that state’s plan can be submitted to EPA … The second model bill attacking EPA’s Clean Power Plan forces states to drag their feet on meeting obligations under the Clean Air Act. It would prohibit state agencies from submitting a carbon-reduction plan to EPA until all legal challenges to the plan are resolved. This is a formula for indefinite delay if any lawsuit, no matter how frivolous, can hold up the plan.”
  • Obstructing ozone air quality standards. “ALEC also attacks national health standards for smog pollution. ALEC’s model ozone bill mimics proposed federal legislation that would obstruct national health standards for smog, claiming the air is clean enough and it’s too expensive to make the air safe. The model resolution would undermine 40 years of Clean Air Act law and unanimous Supreme Court precedent. In effect it would let polluting industries, not health and medical science, determine air pollution standards across the nation.”

Other elements of the ALEC pro-polluter agenda would expand oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, weaken carbon emission standards for synthetic fuels, and the creation of polluter friendly “State Science Advisory Boards” with no “conflict-of-interest provision that would prohibit individuals from serving if they represent a corporation or a trade association with a financial interest in the Board’s decisions.”

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