Tag Archives: ALEC

Anti-Pipeline Kayaktivists Hit With Felony Charges Under Louisiana’s New ALEC-Inspired Law That Criminalizes Protest

Activists battling the pipeline project say the fossil fuel company’s private security “abducted” the kayakers before they were charged by police

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2018

Three kayaktivists who oppose the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana were charged with felonies Thursday under a new state law that criminalizes peaceful protests of fossil fuel projects. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie/Facebook)

Three kayaktivists who oppose construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline—the tail end of Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline—are reportedly the first people to be charged with felonies under a new Louisiana law that, like a model bill crafted by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), criminalizes peaceful protests of fossil fuel projects.

The collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—said on Twitter Thursday that three kayakers were “abducted” by the pipeline company’s private security while boating through public waterways, and then arrested. Continue reading

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Trump’s HHS to enforce religious beliefs over health of US citizens

Screenshot: SNL/NBC

Ever since Donald Trump took office, we’ve been bombarded with news on a daily basis. News that would sink any other administration, or news that just makes you ask “WTF did I just read?”

But, while we’re being distracted by the outlandish behavior and statements of the Pretender in Chief, there’s usually something more sinister that slides somewhat under the radar. A case in point: this announcement published last Thursday on the HHS websiteContinue reading

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Conservatives Plot Their Course on the Rising ‘Sea of Red’ in State Capitals

Meeting in private, enthused activists promise that the growing Republican dominance in state government will unleash a wave of laws to cut business taxes, restrict unions and expand school privatization.

By Robert Faturechi, Pro Publica. Published 1-7-2017 by Common Dreams

The Kentucky State Capitol. Photo: Seifler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Shortly after the November election, with the nation’s political attention focused on the Trump transition, an influential advocacy group met outside Washington to discuss how to leverage the extraordinary shift of power to Republicans in the rest of the country.

The American Legislative Exchange Council — a nonprofit better known as ALEC — briefed its members and allied groups on the bright future for its agenda now that Republicans will effectively control 68 of the nation’s 99 state legislative bodies, as well as 33 governor’s mansions. Among other things, group members said they would push bills to reduce corporate taxes, weaken unions, privatize schooling and influence the ideological debate on college campuses. Continue reading

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Pro-Democracy Group Warns of Secret Right-Wing Push to Rewrite Constitution

‘This is a national train wreck that must be stopped,’ says Common Cause

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-2-2015

"This is total constitutional terra incognita," one reporter said of an Article V convention. (Photo: Kim Davies/flickr/cc)

“This is total constitutional terra incognita,” one reporter said of an Article V convention. (Photo: Kim Davies/flickr/cc)

Under the radar of corporate media and general public, a “dangerous proposal” is bubbling up in state legislatures throughout the country—one that could trigger “political chaos that would make past upheavals like the Watergate scandal and the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton seem tame by comparison.”

So warned the grassroots, pro-democracy group Common Cause on Wednesday, in a new report entitled, The Dangerous Path: Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution (pdf).

The threat comes in the form of a constitutional convention, assembled under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, one of several mechanisms that enables future amendments. Article V requires Congress to call such a gathering once 34 state legislatures submit petitions to do so; new constitutional amendments agreed to at the confab would then be sent back to the states for ratification. Continue reading

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Shell Cuts Off ALEC, But Greenpeace Says PR Stunt Won’t Save Arctic

Oil giant cuts ties with right-wing lobbying group, still plans to drill for oil in the Arctic

Written by Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-15.

Activists surround a Shell drilling rig in Seattle as the oil company attempts to move its vessels into the Arctic for a drilling operation. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Activists surround a Shell drilling rig in Seattle as the oil company attempts to move its vessels into the Arctic for a drilling operation. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

Royal Dutch Shell on Friday announced that it would not renew its partnership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), citing the corporate lobbying organization’s continued denial of climate change, in a move that environmental groups say does nothing to absolve the oil giant from its destructive business model.

“ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own,” said Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith on Friday. “We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world. As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with ALEC lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year.”

For decades, ALEC has pushed against federal efforts encouraging private companies to invest in renewable energy sources. Shell follows BP as the latest oil giant to abandon the controversial right-wing group after a campaign led by the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to the Guardian, the Canadian National Railway—a major coal transporter—also quietly severed its financial ties with ALEC on Friday.

But while the campaign against ALEC helps highlight the group’s role in spreading climate science denial, simply ending partnerships with it is not enough to salvage the fossil fuel industry’s reputation among environmental activists—particularly as Shell continues its controversial mission to drill for oil in pristine Arctic waters.

As Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols said on Friday, “It’s a bad sign for the climate denial movement that ALEC’s rhetoric is too extreme even for a cynical exploitative corporation like Shell. It’s also clear that Shell’s ill-conceived Arctic drilling plan is causing a PR panic, but this move won’t fix Shell’s bad name.”

“It’s completely absurd for Shell to claim it wants to confront climate change while engaging in this destructive plan to drill in the Alaskan Arctic,” Nichols continued.

Charlie Kronick, a senior campaign adviser with Greenpeace, told the Guardian: “Shell is being dragged kicking and screaming out of [ALEC] due to investor and public pressure. But they have a long way to go to bridge the massive gap between the reality of their business plans, most notably their catastrophic plan to drill in the Arctic, their other anti-climate lobbying, and their claimed leadership on climate change.”

Added Nick Surgey, director of research at the Center for Media and Democracy: “It’s obviously a positive step for Shell to stop funding [ALEC] and its climate change denial. Other oil companies should join them. Unfortunately this is another occasion when Shell’s positive language about climate change doesn’t match their actions. Drilling for oil in the Arctic might turn a profit for Shell, but it must be stopped if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

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‘Dark Cloud’ of ALEC Converges at Annual Corporate-Political Lovefest

This week, San Diego hosts ‘a festival of closed-door deal-making by politicians, corporate executives and lobbyists’

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-15.

Photo via YouTube

Photo via YouTube

Fighting to protect dark money. Attacking federal efforts to rein in carbon pollution. Undermining local democracy.

These are just some of the “hot topics” on the agenda this week as conservative lawmakers, corporate lobbyists, and top GOP candidates from around the country gather in San Diego for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s annual meeting.

“A dark cloud is headed our way in the form of a shadowy lobbying organization that buys loyalty from state legislatures with untraceable corporate dollars and threatens the very fabric of our democracy,” San Diego County Democratic Party chair Francine Busby wrote in advance of the conference.

ALEC, Busby explained, “is a ‘bill mill’ funded by corporations and billionaires. It creates ‘model legislation’ by and for industries, which right-wing legislators then take back to their statehouses and enact into law.”

Miles Rapoport, president of the grassroots advocacy organization Common Cause, described the meeting as “a festival of closed-door deal-making by politicians, corporate executives and lobbyists,” at which “[t]hey gather to do the public’s business in private, fashioning legislation that undercuts the public interest in things like clean air and water, quality public schools, economic fairness and participatory democracy.”

It was with these charges in mind that more than 1,000 labor, social justice, and environmental advocates rolled out the unwelcome mat for the ALEC legislators and lobbyists on Wednesday, saying they didn’t want the corporate-backed group in their city.

“This is a no ALEC zone. I mean, we don’t want ALEC in our city or, quite frankly, in our state,” Mickey Kasparian, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said at the rally in downtown San Diego. “This is California. We fight for workers’ rights. We fight for affordable healthcare.”

But as the Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer pointed out this week, “[i]n many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC’s conference.”

The city has served as a “petri dish for ALEC’s agenda,” he said, citing a successful and corporate-backed campaign that forced the city council to rescind a popular minimum wage measure.

Meanwhile, environmentalists warn that the draft conference agenda indicates that ALEC will pursue a familiar course in the coming year. According to Aliya Huq, climate change special projects director for Natural Resources Defense Council, the group is pushing measures to “defend polluters, hinder clean energy development, and obstruct climate solutions.”

Model bills up for discussion this week, Huq wrote, include the “State Power Accountability and Reliability Charter (SPARC),” which seeks to chip away at the EPA’s carbon pollution limits on power plants; the “Act Providing Incentives for Carbon Reduction Investments,” aimed at weakening and delaying existing state renewable energy standards; and the “Resolution Concerning Special Markets for Direct Solar Power Sales.”

This final bill, Huq writes, “is a real gem in ALEC’s long-running strategy to subvert solar markets.”

But “[r]ooftop solar gives consumers choice; shouldn’t we be working to make it available to more people not fewer?” Huq asked. “Furthermore, Econ 101 taught us that the hidden costs of fossil pollution is a market failure, and solar incentives level the playing field for clean energy to protect public health and the environment. These attacks are most likely coming from vested polluter interests (including some ALEC members who are actual regulated monopolies) that want to protect their profits.”

In a separate blog post on Monday, CMD’s Fischer noted that ALEC’s new offshoot focused on local government, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), will also meet in San Diego this week.

“Local democracy has led to some significant policy wins in recent years, with cities like Philadelphia guaranteeing workers paid sick days, and places like Denton, Texas banning fracking,” Fischer wrote. “ALEC’s response to cities and counties acting as laboratories of democracy has traditionally been to crush it, through state ‘preemption’ laws that prohibit local governments from raising the minimum wage, or regulating GMOs, or building municipal broadband.”

With ACCE, Fischer charged, “ALEC and its corporate backers are taking the fight directly to the local level, urging city and county officials on the one hand to give up their authority to protect the health and economic well-being of their constituents, and on the other to push policy measures to advance corporate interests.​”

According to news reports, two Republican presidential hopefuls—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee, the ex-Arkansas governor—are scheduled to speak at the conference on Thursday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) canceled his scheduled Friday appearance.

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ALEC Plays the Blame Game

Back in October, we ran an article titled Dumb ALEC, in which we discussed the growing number of corporations disassociating themselves from the American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly known as ALEC, over ALEC’s stance on climate change. Now six months later, ALEC and climate change are back in the news; this time with a plot twist.

alec-logo-sm

 

Back in March, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) took to the Senate floor and spoke out against climate change denial and the fossil fuel industry funding received by groups that promote it. ALEC was one of the main recipients of Whitehouse’s ire:

“ALEC is an organization, which works to undercut climate science and undermine climate progress at the state level, interfering in our state legislatures. ALEC has tried to roll back state renewable fuel standards and has handed out model state legislation to obstruct and tie up the President’s Clean Power Plan… Major companies like Google, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo and believe or not even Occidental Petroleum, have disassociated themselves from ALEC because of its destructive position on climate. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said of ALEC, quote ‘they are literally lying’ end quote. They are literally lying about climate change but they keep getting funding from Chevron, BP, Shell and ExxonMobil.” Continue reading

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Dumb ALEC

Here at Occupy World Writes, we spend a lot of time discussing what we feel are crazy, short sighted and/or discriminating laws passed by the various state legislatures. However, we’ve spent hardly any time at all talking about the source for many of these laws: the American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly known as ALEC.

alec-logo-sm

On their website, ALEC states that it’s “a nonpartisan membership association for state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” We put this through our patented Bullpucky Translator program, and found that this actually means “an organization where corporations and conservative lawmakers who share a common belief in profits over everything else can get together away from the public eye.”

ALEC goes on to claim that it “has been the ideal means of creating and delivering public policy ideas aimed at protecting and expanding our free society. Thanks to ALEC members, the duly elected leaders of their state legislatures, Jeffersonian principles advise and inform legislative action across the country. Literally hundreds of dedicated ALEC members have worked together to create, develop, introduce and guide to enactment many of the policies that have now become the law in the states.”

What does the Bullpucky Translator say when fed this delicious word salad? “ALEC has been the ideal means of creating and delivering laws that cater to the 1%, at the expense of the 99%. Thanks to ALEC members, corporate fascism has become the norm in the states where we have a strong presence in the legislature. Literally hundreds of dedicated ALEC members have worked together to curtail voting rights, give huge tax breaks to the wealthy, lay waste to the environment and pass numerous other laws detrimental to the physical and emotional well being of the 99%.”

Considering the sources of ALEC’s financing, you might suspect that they’d be prone to downplay climate science – and you’d be right. This stance on climate has generated a startling but welcome backlash. In just one week, three of Silicon Valley’s brightest stars – Google, Facebook and Yahoo – severed ties with ALEC over their stance on climate change. Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, said on NPR:

“Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place, And so we should not be aligned with such people—they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”

Then on Friday, the nation’s fourth largest oil and gas company announced it was leaving ALEC. Occidental Petroleum cited concerns that it could be “presumed to share the positions” of other ALEC members, like the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce, on climate change and EPA regulations.”

How much of this is just lip service on the part of these companies is yet to be seen. For example, Google’s Senior Energy Policy Counsel participated in ALEC meetings as recently as July. Those meetings’ agenda included opposing carbon regulations and expanding natural gas exports. And, Occidental’s record of political donations show it supporting conservative candidates who largely oppose EPA action on climate change.

We can hope this isn’t the case. We find it amusing and rather fitting that even oil companies are running away from ALEC’s anti-climate science positions, and are scrambling to paint themselves as companies with a conscience. ALEC’s stupid head in the sand policies which deny the facts about climate change have come back to bite them, We consider this a good thing.

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