Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not scheduled to propose carbon emission limits from existing power plants until June, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is already gearing up to oppose the standards. According to EcoWatch, ALEC and other industry groups are not even waiting to see the EPA’s draft standard for emissions before they begin working to oppose EPA action.
Already ALEC has issued two resolutions in response to the EPA’s plan to regulate carbon emission standards under the Clean Air Act. ALEC legislators have introduced a dozen bills opposing the EPA in states across the country, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The corporate bill mill’s attacks on the EPA’s proposed carbon emission limits are weak at best.
ALEC argues that EPA emission standards will hurt the economy, though it has been shown that we can significantly cut carbon pollution in addition to creating 200,000 jobs and lowering average monthly electric bills nationally.
ALEC also implies that coal is already clean energy, although recent declines in carbon emissions are due not to the “cleanness” of the coal industry, but to low natural gas prices, increases in energy efficiency, and a growing renewable energy industry.
ALEC-affiliated legislators in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and West Virginia are also pushing legislation to create obstacles for state governors and agencies to meet the EPA standards. “These self-defeating bills would take away a Governor’s flexibility in meeting the EPA standard, forcing the state into more expensive and difficult compliance pathways than necessary,” EcoWatch reports.
At the beginning of the year, ALEC released its 2014 energy policy, which, in addition to attacking EPA emission standards, also involves increasing coal power and “slowing the growth of key elements within the renewable energy sector,” among other initiatives.
Last year, the group was unsuccessful at numerous attempts to eliminate Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which require utilities and electricity providers to provide a certain amount of energy from renewable sources. Watchdog groups hope to see them fail at their anti-environmental agenda this year, particularly at attempts to impede EPA emission standards.
Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, and many others have been working diligently to expose ALEC’s attempts to influence energy politics on the state level. “Although ALEC resolutions will not change state law, they provide vehicles for polluters to lobby local officials and for politicians to grandstand on behalf of their coal industry campaign contributors,” NRDC notes.
Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.