Grist: Koch-funded group mounts cut-and-paste attack on regional climate initiatives

March 16, 2011- Fresh off last year’s successful defeat of federal climate legislation in the U.S. Senate, the oil baron Koch brothers and their dirty-energy buddies are now bent on dismantling one of the nation’s last hopes for doing anything about climate change in the near term: regional climate accords.

Today, a total of 32 states are active participants or observing members in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast, the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, or the Western Climate Initiative.

That number will get a lot smaller if the American Legislative Exchange Council—a D.C.-based conservative advocacy organization funded by Koch family foundations, ExxonMobil, and other oil companies and big corporations—gets its way.

ALEC offers legislative templates to state lawmakers who don’t want the hassle of writing their own conservative bills. Raegan Weber, ALEC’s senior director of public affairs, says the group has produced 800 to 1,000 pieces of so-called “model legislation.” Access to those templates is restricted to legislators who pay $100 for a two-year membership, which makes it difficult to trace a bill’s language back to ALEC.

But thanks to a blog post by a conservative states-rights activist in Florida (and a tidbit in one of ALEC’s own press releases), we can make out at least part of what’s in ALEC’s template for “State Withdrawal from Regional Climate Initiatives,” one of the offerings on the group’s environment webpage. And it looks like the template has been getting a lot of use lately. 

Language that regurgitates all of the right’s favorite—and in many cases fallacious—anti-cap-and-trade talking points has cropped up in nearly identical form in resolutions or bills in at least six states:

WHEREAS, there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates and the consequential effect of the increasing costs of doing business in the State of ______;

WHEREAS, forcing business, industry, and food producers to reduce carbon emissions through government mandates and cap-and-trade policies under consideration for the regional climate initiative will increase the cost of doing business, push companies to do business with other states or nations, and increase consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food;

WHEREAS, the Congressional Budget Office warns that the cost of cap-and-trade policies will be borne by consumers and will place a disproportionately high burden on poorer families;

WHEREAS, simply reducing carbon emissions in the State of ______ will not have a significant impact on international carbon reduction, especially while countries like China, Russia, Mexico, and India emit an ever-increasing amount of carbon into the atmosphere;

WHEREAS, a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of CO2;

WHEREAS, no state or nation has enhanced economic opportunities for its citizens or increased Gross Domestic Product through cap and trade or other carbon reduction policies; and

WHEREAS, Europe’s cap and trade system has been undermined by political favoritism, accounting tricks and has failed to achieve the carbon reduction targets,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the legislature of the State of ______ urges the Governor to withdraw [state] from the regional climate initiative.

Last year in Michigan, the language appeared in a resolution [PDF] introduced in the state House of Representatives, demanding that the state drop out of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.

This year, the language has shown up in resolutions in Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington [PDFs] calling for the states to quit the Western Climate Initiative. 


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