Next Battleground in Climate Debate: Repealing State Mandates

While the federal government has dithered on comprehensive programs to limit greenhouse gas emissions, states and cities have led such efforts. Climate change skeptics are now leading efforts to reverse state renewable energy mandates across the US.
November 30, 2012, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Juliet Eilperin reports on efforts by the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), to "repeal state standards requiring utilities to get a portion of their electricity from renewable power." With funding from sources such as Exxon Mobil and foundations affiliated with Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, the groups have worked together to draft model legislation dubbed the Electricity Freedom Act [PDF], aimed at reversing renewable energy mandates in some of the twenty-nine states (and the District of Columbia) that have such standards.

"James Taylor, the Heartland Institute’s senior fellow for environmental policy, said he was able to persuade most of ALEC’s state legislators and corporate members to push for a repeal of laws requiring more solar and wind power use on the basis of economics," notes Eilperin. “Renewable power mandates are very costly to consumers throughout the 50 states, and we feel it is important that consumers have access to affordable electricity,” Taylor said. “We wrote the model legislation and I presented it. I didn’t have to give that much of a case for it.”

"But Gabe Elsner, co-director of the public watchdog group Checks and Balances Project, said the legislation and economic reports [produced by groups receiving funding from the Koch brothers] amount to 'a one-two punch against clean energy laws across the country' by fossil-fuel interests," says Eilperin.

“You push the legislation to state legislators and then you fund reports to support the argument and convince state lawmakers,” Elsner said, “and all without any transparency or disclosure about the sources of this funding.”

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Published on Saturday, November 24, 2012 in The Washington Post
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