By Contributor on February 01, 2013

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire (subscription required).

Why? Last October, ALEC adopted the "Electricity Freedom Act" model bill. This model bill, which ALEC is now seeking to roll out in various states, would end requirements for states to derive a specific percentage of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

Given the gridlock on national legislation, renewable energy standards, which are typically passed at the state or local level, set targets for shifting from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy.

The Solar Energy Industry Association let its one-year membership expire last fall. The American Wind Energy Association let its membership drop in January.

Carrie Hitt, Senior Vice-President of State Affairs at solar association, told The Progressive: "We let our membership expire for two reasons: 1. The level at which we were participating was not have an impact on renewable energy targets; 2. We were disappointed by the process and outcome of the discussions around last fall's model bill. We were trying to reduce permitting fees, costs, and hurdles for renewable energy."

When asked if her association had any plans to renew its membership with ALEC, she responded, "We have no plans to renew our membership at this time."

Peter Kelley, the wind association's vice-president for public affairs, told The Progressive: "We are accustomed to misinformation from opponents of renewable energy who are funded by competing forms of energy. State legislators who joined ALEC, presumably expecting reliable information, ought to know this is just an attack from business competitors of renewable energy that is not in consumers' best interests."

As to the bill's attempted push-back on renewable energy standards, he said, it "makes no sense," adding: "Wind is saving Midwest consumers billions of dollars a year. If state legislators are interested in defending consumers, they'll strengthen state [renewable energy] laws, not weaken them."

ALEC not only seeks to fight renewable energy standards, it also proposes and pushes the "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act." That model bill says it is seeking balance in the classroom but it emphasizes "countervailing scientific and economic views on environmental issues."

According to Desmogblog, the bill was adopted by ALEC back in 2000 and language from the draft bill has been introduced in 11 states and passed in four states, including Louisiana in 2008, Texas in 2009, South Dakota in 2010, and Tennessee in 2012.

The legislation is currently under consideration in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, HB 1674 demands that both the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories" are taught. Furthermore, the bill argues that global warming is "steeped in controversy," despite the fact that consensus exists among the scientific community about its reality and urgency.

In Colorado, HB 13-1089 calls the bills the "Academic Freedom Acts." The bill notes that teaching global warming "can cause controversy."

In Arizona, SB 1213 was introduced on Monday, January 26, echoing the language of the other bills, stating the "teaching global warming" can "cause controversy."

All three current bills were introduced by representatives who are dues-paying members of ALEC.

Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers energy policy, climate negotiations and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly, as well as Business Green, Climate Progress and TreeHugger.

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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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