American Legislative Exchange Council

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connects lawmakers with corporate lobbyists to produces model bills that are then introduced in legislatures across the country. Model bills can be brought to ALEC by the lobbyists themselves, which has led some to describe this organization as a “corporate bill mill.” In fact, 98% of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations or corporate “foundations” like the Charles G. Koch Foundation. This money is then used to subsidize lawmakers’ trips to ALEC meetings, where they are wined, dined, and then vote in committee meetings, side-by-side with lobbyists, on the model bills.   

Most recently, a report aired on Atlanta’s NBC TV Channel WXIA 11 showing investigative reporter Brendan Keefe revealing an exchange at a hotel bar between a lobbyist and an ALEC state legislator explaining how the subsidizing process works.

NBC-ALEC-Investigation.jpg“Do you have to pay your own way?” Keefe asked the state legislator. The lawmaker answered by explaining how the State Chair of ALEC in his home state looks for “financial supporters, lobbyists, and the like to send us a couple thousand bucks every so often.”  

ALEC denied to the investigative reporter that it subsidizes legislators’ trips with corporation money.  

The bills that have come out of ALEC over the past few years do much to advance the corporate members’ interests at the expense of both the environment and the public’s health. Examples include bills that would prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide emissions, and a bill giving corporations legal protections against victims of lead poisoning. ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, which includes representatives from major fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Duke Energy, and Peabody Energy, has approved model bills to repeal renewable energy standards (RES), weaken RES laws by watering them down with non-renewable sources of electricity, and eliminate solar net metering policies.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a segment on ALEC in 2014, and explained how the organization makes state lawmakers’ jobs “troublingly easy.” Oliver highlighted the model legislation that repeals RES laws and said, “so as long as you can remember and spell the name of your state, you can introduce legislation.” And this year, it seems that many legislators could remember their state name and spell it correctly, because many model bills were introduced. In fact, one bill appearing in the state of Washington, which weakens that state’s RES, is nearly identical to an ALEC model bill that was distributed to its members this year.  

ALEC-Model-Attack-on-Clean-Energy.jpgOnce ALEC model bills are introduced, allied legislators and fossil fuel-funded front groups cite flawed reports to back up their reasoning to either repeal or weaken RES laws or net metering laws. The reports cited are written by the fossil fuel-funded Beacon Hill Institute housed at Suffolk University, and the Koch-funded professor, Randy Simmons, who works at Utah State University. The groups tout university studies to generate more support to eliminate or weaken clean energy laws, and then State Policy Network lobbyists work to increase co-sponsors while providing testimony in favor of the ALEC bills. Finally, fossil fuel-funded member-based groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, put additional pressure on lawmakers to pass ALEC model bills.   

In total, there E&PI found 14 ALEC-related or inspired model bills in 2015 attacking renewable energy standards and net metering laws. These do not include the ALEC model bills that targeted state environmental agencies’ ability to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Natural Resources Defense Council reported that were 13 bills this year that attacked the CPP. 

Corporations and trade associations also began to use ALEC’s new organization, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), to lobby lawmakers. ACCE’s winter “policy summit” featured Todd Wynn of the Edison Electric Institute, which is the trade association for investor-owned electric utility companies. Wynn was also a former ALEC staffer.

At the summit, Wynn lobbied local elected officials about net metering and municipalization. He told the public officials at the ACCE meeting, “Engage and get to know your local electric utility. Those guys are really great. They can be awesome assets for you. They can help you out with your races at some point in time as well, which is always positive."

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State Policy Network

State-Policy-Network.pngThe State Policy Network (SPN) is a coordinated network of conservative think tanks in every state in the country. It’s an $83 million empire that drives corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bills in state capitals by issuing reports and testifying in favor of the legislation.

In 2013, The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer highlighted SPN and wrote, "Although the think tanks have largely operated under the radar, the cumulative enterprise is impressively large, according to the [Center for Media and Democracy] report. In 2011, the network funneled $79 million into promoting conservative policies at the state level.” It is considered ALEC’s biggest ally in the states.  

The Internal Revenue Service classifies most of the think tanks in SPN as 501(c)(3) charities, which means that they are exempt from taxation. However, The Guardian revealed

Though the groups are not involved in election campaigns, they are subject to strict restrictions on the amount of lobbying they are allowed to perform. Several of the grand bits contained in The Guardian documents propose the launch of “media campaigns” aimed at changing state laws and policies, or refer to “advancing model legislation” and “candidate briefings”, in ways that arguably cross the line into lobbying. 

SPN, along with the think tanks in its network, receive money from foundations that are funded by the Koch Brothers, and two secretive groups called the “Dark Money ATM” of the conservative movement: DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

In 2015, SPN continued its role as a coordinating umbrella group to advance legislation to repeal or weaken clean energy laws in conjunction with ALEC.

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Heartland Institute

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The Heartland Institute is a fossil fuel-funded front group with over $800,000 in contributions from fossil fuel interests that has routinely attacked clean energy policies and the science behind climate change. In 2012, Heartland was the center of controversy after comparing people that believe in climate change to the Unabomber. In the past, Heartland worked with the tobacco industry to minimize the negative public perception that second-hand tobacco smoke was bad for your health and lobbied against public health reforms.    

Heartland is a primary player in attacks on renewable energy standards across the country. The organization sponsored the American Legislative Exchange Council's “Electricity Freedom Act,” model legislation in 2012 that, if passed, would repeal state renewable energy standards. Efforts to eliminate these pro-clean energy policies failed in 16 states across the country in the last year and failed country-wide this year. 

Supporters of Heartland’s efforts will point to West Virginia and Kansas as states where it had succeeded in repealing RES laws, but these supporters fail to acknowledge that West Virginia’s law featured coal as an eligible source of “renewables” under the law, and Kansas had already achieved the 20% renewables mandate. In addition, the North Carolina has yet to pass the senate’s version of an RES freeze bill. Heartland and allies can only point to Ohio as a state that has paused its RES law, which it did in 2014. Yet, they again fail to acknowledge that the renewable energy requirements begin again next year if no action is taken by the legislature. 

Heartland was also involved in attacking pro-solar policies and initiatives in multiple states in 2015. In each of these fights, Heartland lobbied and advocated for the repeal of the state’s renewable energy law using misinformation and flawed economic research. 

In Colorado, Heartland highlighted the Energy & Environment Legal Institute’s law suit claiming that the state’s RES was unconstitutional. Heartland also pressured state lawmakers to repeal the state’s RES, spread disinformation about how the law has caused electricity prices to rise faster than the national average. However, if one reviews the Energy Information Administration’s data on electricity prices, then one can find that Colorado prices increased only 3.3% faster than the national average - an increase that is mostly a result of the state’s fuel switch to natural gas and upgrades to pipelines. Heartland also promoted fossil fuel-funded Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy Executive Director Marita Noon’s misinformed blog attacking renewable energy policies.

In Louisiana, Heartland pushed Governor Bobby Jindal and the state legislature to eliminate state tax credits for solar energy. The organization again used misinformation to attack the pro-solar policy, claiming that solar tax credits were responsible for “running up large deficits” and state credits were adding to a "mountain of federal government favoritism.” While solar industry tax credits totaled approximately $57 million in 2015, eliminating these tax credits would have little impact on the state’s projected $1.6 billion budget deficit. The bill passed by the legislature would save approximately $19 million.  

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Heartland’s attacks on clean energy fail to account for much larger subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. A calculation of total oil and gas subsidies in Louisiana by Earth Track details that oil and gas subsidies in 2012 were at a minimum over $500 million. In addition, severance tax losses, almost exclusively from oil and gas, cost the state $354 million in 2010. Severance taxes help insure the costs associated with drilling are paid by the producers to help alleviate the burden on state and local taxpayers. An example of this includes constructing and maintaining roads to extractive sites. Furthermore, the utility, oil, and gas industry received an additional $964 million from 2008 to 2010 as part of the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption. For the electricity generation and utility sectors alone, the state of Louisiana subsidized major utility companies by $276 million over three years. These ratepayer subsidies for utility interests are generally not factored into the price of electricity from natural gas.

In continuing their attack on solar in Louisiana, Heartland also cited Acadian Consulting Group’s flawed report for the Public Service Commission on net metering as proof that solar is passing costs onto other ratepayers. Acadian Consulting, run by David Dismukes, was criticized by solar companies for its ties to the fossil fuel and utility industry, which may have impacted the rigor and outcome of their report. In the past, Dismukes has "publicly criticized renewable energy subsidies, while praising those for fossil fuels.” According to reporting from The Times-Picayune, Acadian has received direct funding from industry groups on several research projects, including $20,000 from the America's Natural Gas Alliance for a report that was critical of federal wind energy subsidies. Acadian’s clients include Duke Energy, NRG Energy, Sempra Energy. The Sierra Club exposed severe flaws in Dismukes’ report, stating, 

No other net-metering cost-benefit analysis in the nation has included state-authorized tax incentives as a cost. Public utility commissions have no authority over tax incentives and legislative policy choices, and such incentives are a cost to the state treasury not utilities or ratepayers. When these tax incentives are excluded from the utility’s cost calculation, as they should be, the study demonstrates that actually net metering provides a clear economic benefit to utilities and ratepayers.

Heartland has joined other fossil fuel-funded opponents of the Florida ballot initiative, including Americans for Prosperity, in attacking the attempt to open the Florida electricity market to solar companies, citing subsidies for solar installations. 

In Kansas, Heartland attacked the state’s RES, echoing a blog published by Bonner Cohen from the State Policy Network group, National Center for Public Policy Research. In the post, Cohen cites a report by the Utah State University Institute for Political Economy, which produced debunked economic analysis in North Carolina and Kansas attacking those states' renewable energy laws. The Utah State University report was authored by Randy Simmons, the “Charles G. Koch Professor of Political Economy” and used inflated costs for renewable energy to claim a negative impact on ratepayers’ income and the state economy. Once corrected, the Utah State University/Strata study actually shows that renewable energy standards (and the increased use of wind energy) create economic benefits

James-Taylor.pngHeartland also advocated against the Kansas renewable energy standard in a Washington Times op-ed, claiming that energy prices skyrocketed without providing any evidence. Energy & Policy Institute debunked the Heartland’s claims about “skyrocketing energy prices” last year. James Taylor claims that because electricity prices in Kansas have risen faster than the national average since 2009, the state’s RPS is causing a spike in electricity prices. But Taylor ignores the fact that electricity prices are changing based on a number of different factors. 

This year, anti-clean energy groups were only able to convert the state’s renewable energy standard into a “voluntary goal” but only after utilities exceeded the standard five years early. Heartland’s misinformation campaign and desperate efforts to repeal a state renewable energy will have no affect on renewable energy growth in the state of Kansas. 

The New Mexico State Legislature considered a bill that would freeze the state’s renewable energy standard but it failed to move through the Senate after passing the State House of Representatives. Heartland published a misleading blog attacking opponents of the anti-clean energy bill and promoting the views of allied Rio Grande Foundation in promoting the renewable energy standard repeal. The State Policy Network’s Rio Grande Foundation also advocated for the bill. 

Despite misinformation being echoed by the Heartland Institute and Rio Grande Foundation, data from the Energy Information Administration shows that the New Mexico renewable energy law is not causing an increase in electricity prices over states that do not have renewable energy standards. The average increase in electricity prices across the United States from 2012 to 2013 was 2.86%, while the increase in electricity prices in New Mexico was just 2.74%.  Also, according to an empirical study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, renewable energy standards have not caused electricity rates to increase more rapidly than states that do not have these standards.

In North Carolina, the House of Representatives passed a bill to freeze the renewable energy standard. It was sponsored by ALEC member Mike Hager, a former Duke Energy employee. In the Senate, the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Bob Rucho, pushed the bill through his committee after refusing to count the votes during a controversial voice vote, amidst objections from both political parties. The entire state senate has yet to vote on the bill. 

Heartland then published a flawed editorial on the supposed economic costs of the state’s renewable energy law by Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a State Policy Network group. Cohen, as mentioned above, cites the work of the Koch-backed Institute for Political Economy at Utah State University, which produced misleading reports attacking state renewable energy laws.

In addition, Heartland signed a coalition letter spearheaded by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) that called on the state legislature to repeal the renewable portfolio standard. The letter cited the debunked Beacon Hill Institute report on the North Carolina RES that inflated the costs of renewable energy and ignored entire statutes written into the law to keep costs down. The AFP was also signed by a smorgasbord of fossil fuel-funded front groups and organizations tied to the Koch political network. 

In Oklahoma, legislators reached a compromise with the wind energy industry, passing two bills that would phase out the state’s five-year property tax exemption for wind energy projects and eliminate wind energy’s eligibility for a job creation tax credit in the state, in exchange for keeping in place a zero-emission tax credit until the end of 2020. Governor Mary Fallin signed the bills in May 2015, stating, 

Today, Oklahoma’s wind industry is among the strongest in the nation and is an integral part of our power grid and our economy. Wind energy is here to stay. It no longer needs the same level of support and encouragement from the state. I appreciate the wind industry’s participation in crafting this compromise and applaud the legislative leaders, especially Representative Earl Sears and Senator Mike Mazzei that invited them to the table. These bills will ensure we accomplish the dual goals of supporting an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy while delivering much-needed fiscal reform.

Heartland used the Oklahoma compromise as supposed evidence that states are backing away from RES laws. However, the bills passed by the Oklahoma legislature this year were related to wind energy incentives and tax credits, not the RES. Oklahoma has already met its voluntary renewable energy goal of 15% by 2015. According to the most recent data available from the Energy Information Administration, Oklahoma produces 19.4% of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. 

The Texas Senate passed a bill in April, SB 931, that would have ended the state’s RES and the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, which is a program to build high-capacity power lines that link wind-rich areas of the state to the highly populated cities. The Texas House of Representatives ended its 2015 legislative session without taking up the measure, effectively killing the repeal attempt. Heartland weighed into the debate by again promoting Marita Noon’s misinformed blog attacking RES laws.

The West Virginia State Legislature passed a bill in January 2015 to repeal the state’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, and Governor Earl Tomblin signed the bill in February. While this new law makes West Virginia the first state to fully repeal a renewable energy standard, the West Virginia statute did not actually require renewable energy development, because the standard could be met by natural gas, waste coal, and other carbon-intensive energy sources (like burning tires). Heartland applauded the West Virginia bill, and then claimed it as a victory. In addition, Heartland’s comments on the West Virginia standard repeated misleading claims that renewable energy standards drive up electricity costs and hurt the economy. Heartland’s James Taylor said

West Virginia policymakers recognized, in a bipartisan and overwhelming manner, that renewable power mandates drive up electricity costs, kill jobs, punish the economy, and inflict substantial unintentional harm on the environment. Fortunately for electricity consumers and environmentalists, several other states are poised to follow West Virginia’s lead and will be considering similar legislation this year.

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Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy

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The Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) is a fossil fuel-funded advocacy group based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CARE is funded by more than 250 members, including New Mexico oil and gas producers. The group opposes environmental activism and the pursuit of "green," or sustainable, energy development, saying the pursuit of solar and wind power "will end the America we know and love." The group refers to sustainable energy advocates as "Gang Green."  

Marita Noon is the executive director at CARE. Noon is also listed as an “Expert” on The Heartland Institute’s website. CARE was a co-sponsor of Heartland's first International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1). 

In Louisiana, Noon published an op-ed in The Advocate, misleading readers by claiming, “No other industry receives $63.5 million of Louisiana taxpayer’s dollars in one year.” Noon attempts to claim that because the fossil fuel industry pays some taxes, it “gives” while the solar industry “takes.” Energy & Policy Institute’s analysis showed that the oil and gas industry has received at least $1.2 billion since 2010. A calculation of total oil and gas subsidies in Louisiana by Earth Track revealed that oil and gas subsidies in 2012 were at a minimum over $500 million. The utility, oil, and gas industry received an additional $964 million from 2008-2010 as part of the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption. For the electricity generation and utility sectors alone, the state of Louisiana subsidized major utility companies by $276 million over that three year period.

Marita-Noon-Heartland.jpgNoon also published another column that disregarded common sense to claim that it’s a bad time to be in the renewable energy industry and cited Louisiana as one of the reasons. Numerous sources, including business experts, international agencies, and financial institutions, agree that the renewable energy industry is booming. 

CARE released a paper, “Solar Power in the U.S.: Lessons Learned and Guidance for Policymakers” in March 2015. The press release states that the report is intended to, “educate both consumers and lawmakers about the various consequences of using solar energy.”

In addition, the American Legislative Exchange Council featured CARE’s report in an email to members.

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Americans For Prosperity

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 Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a national astroturf group founded and funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries. In the 2012 presidential election, AFP was a significant component of the Koch’s $400 million political operation, receiving large amounts of money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and DonorsTrust. This year, Politico reported that the Koch brothers’ political network plans to spend $889 million for the run-up to the 2016 election, including an estimated $125 million for just AFP in 2015.

AFP is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(4) and as such, it is not required to disclose its donors, nor does it. It is allowed to advocate for political issues, but cannot solicit votes for a specific candidate.

AFP is in sync with other groups funded by the Koch brothers and the Koch’s special interest groups that work against initiatives such as protecting the environment and combating climate change. AFP also distorts climate change science and the economics to “halt the encroachment of government.”

The astroturf group attacked solar energy in Florida after the Floridians for Solar Choice, a recently formed alliance of conservatives, libertarians, and environmentalists, launched a ballot initiative in 2015 that would allow voters in the 2016 election to vote on whether or not property owners who generate solar electricity can sell the power directly to other ratepayers up to 2 megawatts of solar power. Three months after the ballot initiative was launched, the Florida Chapter of AFP circulated emails across the state criticizing the initiative as a way of using "government and taxpayers to prop up the solar industry."

Then in May, the North Carolina representatives passed a bill that included a provision that would freeze of the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency  standard and create a committee to study its impact, which is similar to what developed last year in Ohio. This occurred just a few weeks after House Majority Leader Hager bill to freeze the state’s standard failed as a standalone bill.  

Rep-Mike-Hager-and-AFP.jpgAfter the provisions passed the House, the North  Carolina Chapter of AFP applauded and began to put pressure on the General Assembly to pass the bill. AFP also phone-banked to get voters to call state officials to send HB 760 (later changed to HB 332) to the governor’s desk. The state chapter also held a statewide Day of Action on May 16 to gather activists to do a full day of phone-banking and door-knocking to put pressure on the Senate. A week later, the state chapter released a “jobs agenda” that promoted repealing the state renewable energy standard. Rep. Hager was at the press conference to lend his support. 

On a national level, however, Donald Bryson and Jeff Glendening, the North Carolina state director and Kansas state director for AFP, respectively, had an op-ed published on July 10 in The Wall Street Journal. The AFP directors, with help from WSJ, declared that states are “unplugging” renewable energy standards and used the developments in Kansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia as evidence. Similar to the blogs and op-eds published and written by State Policy Network organizations or Heartland “experts” like Marita Noon in 2015, Bryson and Glendening cited the Institute for Energy Research, Utah State University and Strata, and the Manhattan Institute. All of those cited Koch-connected organizations or fossil fuel companies, as we have detailed, fund organizations; and, all of those reports have serious flaws, as this report notes.

However, the groundwork that was once again built this year by Heartland, Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, AFP, and all the groups in this report, culminates in not only getting legislators to introduce bills that attacks renewable energy, but also the WSJ publishing their erroneous claims.

It is a perfect encapsulation of the strategy to create and fund many different organizations and front groups to pretend a chorus of voices agree that renewable energy laws must be eliminated – or that they are even being repealed. 

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director of the Climate+Earth Project, responded to the WSJ opinion piece on July 20. Barnett writes

Here's the truth: States that continue to embrace renewable energy standards are reaping the economic benefits. In June, for instance, a broad coalition of rural conservatives and local businesses rejected an attempt to end Texas' RPS, even as renewable energy is bringing in huge amounts of private investments while keeping Texans' electricity prices low. It's worth noting that 29 states maintain RPS standards, and that half a dozen states - including Hawaii, Vermont and California - are actually in the process of expanding and extending their RPS laws. On the flip side, Koch-funded groups have pushed anti-RPS bills in Colorado, New Mexico and New Hampshire, and each time they failed.

 

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Beacon Hill Institute

Beacon-Hill-Institute.jpgBeacon Hill Institute (BHI) is based in the economics department of Suffolk University, a private university located in Boston, Massachusetts. BHI is known for “marshaling economic arguments to roll back clean energy programs in the [United States],” as reported by The Guardian. The institute’s executive director, David Tuerck, has a history of manipulating science on tobacco smoke and climate change. He is currently listed as an “expert” on Heartland’s website and is a regular speaker at their climate denial conferences.  

BHI is an affiliate of the State Policy Network (SPN) and has most recently been cited by both American Legislative Exchange Council members and SPN organizations to discredit renewable energy standards. The reports attacking the laws produced by BHI have been thoroughly debunked by independent economists at Synapse Energy Economics. Synapse found “fundamental flaws in both the energy data and the economic modeling used by BHI.” Nevertheless, at least 20 states have seen BHI anti-RES reports over the years.  

So far in 2015, BHI has spent its money and time attacking the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. A series of 16 reports opposing the carbon dioxide rules have been funded by a grant passed through a corporate-linked front group called the Employment Policies Institute, run by Richard Berman. Berman is a corporate lobbyist known as "Dr. Evil," whose front groups "have launched attack ads against the EPA, environmental groups, fishermen and sportsmen, and green building organisations,” according to Media Matters. As CBS' 60 Minutes documented, Berman is infamous for being the "arch-enemy" of government efforts to reduce the use of "products like caffeine, salt, fast food and the oil they fry it in," and for opposing "Mothers Against Drunk Driving, animal rights activists, food watchdog groups, and unions of every kind."  

Some of BHI’s reports have been released in partnership with industry-funded state think tanks with ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel special interest groups, and pitched to advance the agenda of model legislation from ALEC. These actions mimic prior ones with regards to their anti-RES reports: a BHI report is published and it’s then amplified via a SPN affiliate while ALEC model legislation is introduced.  

The organization has also received funding from foundations and organizations associated with the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel interests.

Below is a list of Beacon Hill Institute anti-RES reports by publication date, including any State Policy Network (see page 12) co-publishers: 

  • North Carolina, August 2009, conducted for the John Locke Foundation
  • Massachusetts, October 2010
  • Montana, January 2011, with American Tradition Institute (ATI) and Montana Policy Institute
  • Colorado, February 2011, with ATI
  • New Mexico, February 2011, with ATI and Rio Grande Foundation
  • Oregon, March 2011, with Cascade Policy Institute
  • Minnesota, April 2011, with ATI and Minnesota Free Market Institute
  • Ohio, April 2011, with ATI
  • Delaware, May 2011, with ATI and Caesar Rodney Institute
  • Kansas, July 2012, with Kansas Policy Institute
  • Maine, September 2012, with Maine Heritage Policy Center
  • Michigan, September 2012, with Mackinac Center
  • Missouri, November 2012
  • Pennsylvania, December 2012, with Commonwealth Foundation
  • Wisconsin, March 2013, with Wisconsin Policy Research Center
  • Washington, April 2013, with Washington Policy Center
  • Nevada, April 2013, with Nevada Policy Research Institute
  • Arizona, April 2013
  • New Jersey, April 2014
  • Maryland, April 2014
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Energy & Environment Legal Institute

Energy-and-Environment-Legal-Institute.jpgThe Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a nonprofit think tank [formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI)] that engages in litigation and policy research to “hold accountable those who seek destructive government regulation that’s based on agenda-driven policy making, junk science, and hysteria.” The organization’s website at one time stated it “is part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation,” although that text has now been removed. 

In 2012, The Guardian published a memo prepared by an E&E Legal fellow about a secret anti-wind meeting between local anti-clean energy groups and national fossil fuel-funded organizations seeking to organize widespread opposition against wind energy through a deceptive public relations campaign. Other members of E&E Legal’s senior leadership have ties to fossil fuel interests as well: David Schnare, a fossil fuel-funded pundit with connections to The Heartland Institute, State Policy Network, and other front groups; and Chris Horner, a fossil fuel-funded climate denier who works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an advocacy group with ties to tobacco disinformation campaigns.

In 2011, ATI and plaintiff Rod Luck sued the State of Colorado over the state’s renewable energy standard, arguing that the law violates the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce clause by discriminating against out-of-state energy sources. But this year, a federal judge upheld Colorado’s RES by rejecting E&E Legal’s claims. 

In 2014, Tom Tanton, Director of Science and Technology Assessment for E&E Legal, testified in Congress on state energy policies. Tanton criticized renewable energy standards and cited papers published by his organization that were produced by the Beacon Hill Institute. He also referenced an ALEC policy paper, which he authored, to back up his claim that net metering is an unfair policy. 

E&E Legal’s attacks on renewable energy policies continued this year in addition to their attacks on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Tanton joined the Heartland Daily Podcast in January to discuss why states should re-examine their RES policies. Schnare also authored a post attacking RES laws. He cited a report by the Institute for Political Economy at Utah State University on Kansas’ RES. Schnare fails to mention the Koch-funding connection with that report. He concluded his post by telling readers to urge their state representatives to oppose RES laws, and writes, “It’s your money and your lives at stake.”  

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Americans for Tax Reform

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Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) is an anti-tax lobbying group founded by Grover Norquist. ATR is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and is best known for its “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” which asks candidates for office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases.  

ATR has received funding from a number of corporate interests and Koch-affiliated foundations including the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, Center for Protect Patient Rights, R.J. Reynolds, the Tobacco Institute, DonorsTrust, and Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS).  

The group has long supported bills to repeal, weaken, or freeze renewable energy standards. Last year, ATR applauded the signing of SB 310 in Ohio, which froze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standard. In 2013, Norquist lobbied in Kansas for the weakening of that state’s energy standard. In 2011, Norquist wrote an opinion article in Politico citing Beacon Hill Institute as a reason to oppose renewable energy laws and for state lawmakers to repeal laws that are already in place. 

This year, ATR was not as active in efforts to repeal or weaken clean energy laws, compared to prior years, which has raised questions regarding a possible change of funding. Nevertheless, ATR was still involved in at least one state fight. The group signed onto a coalition letter sent to North Carolina state lawmakers urging them to freeze the state’s renewable energy standard.

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Institute for Energy Research / American Energy Alliance

Institute-for-Energy-Research.jpgThe Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a nonprofit “partner” organization of the American Energy Alliance, which is a 501(c)(4) grassroots organization designed to communicate IER’s policies to voters. IER was founded in 1989 from a predecessor nonprofit organization registered by Charles Koch and Robert L. Bradley Jr. The American Energy Alliance was founded by the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute to fight the BTU tax proposal in 1993, and in recent years has been funded by Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries.  

 

Last year, IER released a report criticizing renewable energy laws and said electricity prices are higher in states with RES laws, but failed to provide any other factors in the cost hikes. Nevertheless, this year, DBL Investors shed light on that claim and found that in fact, “states relying more on renewable generation have experienced retail electricity prices comparable to, or cheaper than, states relying less on renewable generation.” The 10 states with the greatest share of generation from renewables averaged a retail electricity price of 9.79 cents/kWh in 2013, versus an average of 10.28 cents/kWh for the 10 states with the least share of renewable electricity generation.  

 

This year, IER was not actively working to weaken or repeal RES laws across the country compared to prior years. For example, Daniel Simmons, Director of Regulatory and State Affairs at IER, testified in 2013 before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee regarding that state’s RES. In 2014, IER’s Travis Fisher submitted written testimony in Kansas on a proposed repeal of that state’s RES.  

 

However, IER released a report this year on the topic of net metering, saying the policy only benefits higher-income households. IER based the claims mostly from the report authored by David Dismukes of the Acadian Consulting Group.

 

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