By Contributor on July 31, 2014

By State Representative Chris Taylor

I'm at my third American Exchange Legislative Council (ALEC) conference, this time in Dallas, and on my first day, there were some things I had come to expect:

  1. Photo ID to get in, name badges to attend all events, and sign in sheets at all meetings;
  2. Stephen Moore, founder of the Club for Growth and current Heritage Foundation economist, whining about paying $200,000 for his son's private college education and insisting that increasing the minimum wage hurts poor people; and
  3. The vilification of all things Obama, with a special excoriation for the EPA on the heels of the new regulations regarding coal fired power plants.

What I did not expect was for an Internet guy representing Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and eBay to deliver a presentation in which he urged cooperation around policies that support sustainable and renewable energies.

"Now this was going to be interesting," I thought.

The Internet guy explained that their many data centers around the country, each housing thousands of computer servers, require huge amounts of energy. These companies are looking to operate in places where there are "robust" renewable energy supplies because operating sustainably is very important to them and renewable energy is cost-effective. The Internet guy urged ALEC to work with them, recognizing that their interests have not always been aligned.

That was the understatement of the day. Despite sitting through hours of environmental subcommittees, task force meetings, and various environmental presentations, I have never, ever heard anybody at ALEC speak favorably about renewable energy. Not once.

Sitting in the room listening to this pitch for "more robust" policies encouraging renewables were lobbyists from Peabody Energy, Edison Electric, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, among others.

Could they actually be open to a reasonable dialogue regarding the need to expand sustainable, renewable energies? After all, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and eBay combined employ more than 100,000 people. Each data center they operate contributes over $1 billion to the local economy.

At the end of the presentation, the energy giants thanked him, praised his attendance, and peed in the corners.

This was coal country, and no Internet guy was going to tell them otherwise.

So they started their anti-renewable litany of objections:

  • Renewables aren't economical (Internet guy responded that they are economical);
  • Renewables exist because of subsidies (Internet guy responded that all energy is subsidized);
  • And net metering is terrible (Internet guy responded that though they don't use net metering, they have encouraged renewables).

So much for progress.

By the end of the day, any hope for a reasonable dialogue around renewable energy had totally evaporated.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a group originally formed to shut down PIRG chapters on college campuses and a corporate sponsor of the conference, likely paid thousands more dollars to lead an afternoon session entitled "How to Think and Talk about Climate and Energy issues."

One presenter blamed coal regulations, supported by radical environmentalists like the American Lung Association, for causing people to have heart attacks, commit suicide, and abuse drugs and alcohol.

Another presenter, proudly dubbed the "Muhammad Ali of Climate Deniers" and former Republican communications staffer for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, showed slide after slide of quotes from people, including Dan Aykroyd from the 1984 movie "Ghostbusters," to prove that climate change "alarmists" have existed throughout the centuries. There really is nothing to be alarmed about.

As I arrived at the Koch Industries-sponsored reception that evening, with a Texas-style barbecue buffet, free-flowing drinks, a live bull, and two racing armadillos, I realized that, indeed, some things never change.


State Representative Chris Taylor, a Democrat, represents the 76th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

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Comments

Thank you for doing this.
Always love coming here to get my humor because these posts are an absolute JOKE.
Did you expect anything less from a right wing event or coalition. They only gather to ensure they are all still on the same page, making money, and not caring how.
Greed, It blinds people from seeing the right thing to do. Wind, Solar, Geothermal and Hydro power. All clean sources of energy the earth has given us. Use them and we can breath the air and drink the water. So simple.
THANK YOU for this report. Keep up the good work! xo R
ALEC members' arrogance is only outweighed by their ignorance. They exist in a bubble. They are foolish enough to think they can spend money to protect themselves from the problems they are creating. When the crap hits the fan, as it inevitably will since the whole paradigm is unsustainable, they will be shocked when the monster they have created finally eats them.
Discover the Stanford Plan, a 50 state analysis of how all states can produce 100% of their energy needs Sustailably. Included in this report is an interactive map of USA. You will feel encouraged. Now the hard part: Getting folks aware of this and to move on insisting we accomplish this sustainability ASAP. I am always sickened about what ALEC is doing and its massive legislative/brainwashing outreach. Chris thans for updating and being an eyewitness. If I were there, my bloodpressure would skyrocket out of grief and horror.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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