Greenpeace letter to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MEHC) regarding American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

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Greenpeace letter to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MEHC) regarding American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

 

Gregory E. Abel, Chairman, President and CEO

Douglas L. Anderson, Executive VP and General Counsel

Cathy Woollums, SVP of Environmental Services & Chief Environmental Counsel

David C. Caris, VP of State Legislative Affairs

February 20, 2014

Dear Mr. Greg Abel, Mr. Doug Anderson, Ms. Cathy Woollums and Mr. David Caris,

We are writing to express our concern for the extensive support provided by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MEHC) to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and request MEHC disassociate and stop funding ALEC immediately.

ALEC has become increasingly controversial for distributing “Stand Your Ground” state legislation and establishing policy roadblocks for legitimate voters.[i] ALEC’s aggressive anti-environmental positions have made headlines, including a poorly-received characterization of rooftop solar panel owners as “freeriders” for not paying fees to utilities when feeding excess generated electricity into the grid.[ii]

ALEC’s controversial policies are crafted through a questionable process. The lobbyists and state lawmakers in ALEC task forces meet without public accountability. A precarious relationship with federal lobbying laws has now prompted ALEC to create a 501c4 sister organization to avoid potential actions from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. This is verified by notes provided to ALEC’s board of directors, composed of state legislators.[iii]

MEHC subsidiaries PacifiCorp, NV Energy and MidAmerican Energy have all been documented ALEC sponsors or members of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force. [iv] The policies produced by this task force include attacks on renewable portfolio standards, interference with federal efforts to reduce pollution and consistent opposition to limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

ALEC has been at this a long time: notes circulated to attendees of a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute name ALEC among organizations enlisted to block national and international climate policies by undermining the American public’s understanding of climate science.[v]

In contrast to ALEC’s interference with climate and clean energy policies, MidAmerican publicly supports policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and commits to clean energy development as part of its response to global climate change.[vi]

PacifiCorp. NV Energy, and MidAmerican Energy have made public commitments to invest in renewable energy in annual reports and public statements. Each company claims compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standards—laws attacked by ALEC legislators in at least 15 states in recent years including Oregon and Washington, where PacifiCorp operates.[vii]

If MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company and its subsidiaries have already disassociated with ALEC, we request confirmation. If ALEC continues to receive support or membership dues from MEHC companies, we request that MEHC discontinue such a relationship to ensure its own stated role in climate change mitigation is not undermined.

I anticipate your response and I’m happy to provide any clarification or additional resources informing our concerns upon request. Similar letters of concern to PacifiCorp and NV Energy regarding ALEC are attached.

Sincerely,

Gabe Wisniewski

Energy Campaign Director

Greenpeace USA


References:

[i] Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, “ALEC facing funding crisis from donor exodus in wake of Trayvon Martin row,” The Guardian, 12/3/2013

Ethan Magoc, “Flurry of Photo ID Laws Tied to Conservative Washington Group,” News21, August 12, 2012

[ii] Suzanne Goldenberg and Ed Pilkington, “ALEC calls for penalties on 'freerider' homeowners in assault on clean energy,” The Guardian, 12/4/2013

[iii] Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, “ALEC facing funding crisis from donor exodus in wake of Trayvon Martin row,” The Guardian, 12/3/2013

[iv] See documentation cited in “ALEC Corporations,” Center For Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch.org, accessed Feb. 2014

[v] Joe Walker, “Draft Global Climate Science Communications Plan,” email to members of the Global Climate Science Team convened by the American Petroleum Institute. See also New York Times: “Industrial Group Plans to Battle Climate Treaty,” 4/26/1998

[vi]Global Climate Change,” MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company website, Accessed Feb. 2014

[vii] ALEC legislators were among co-sponsors of Oregon HB 4073 (2012), and numerous RPS-weakening bills in Washington, including SB 5431, SB 5648, and SB 5400, which was signed into law and allows out-of-state renewable energy operated by PacifiCorp to qualify for Washington state’s RPS.

 



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