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Environment, Energy, and Agriculture

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Rewriting the Rules about the Environment, Energy, and Agriculture

Environment, Energy, and Agriculture
This page shows how bills pushed by ALEC corporations work to undermine environmental protections, limit the ability of local government to manage land use, and protect corporate polluters. These "model bills" and resolutions thwart efforts to address climate change, streamline siting of nuclear power plants, and oppose efforts to address hazardous coal waste. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific changes to state laws on these issues through these model bills. Do you?

READ the "Model Bills" HERE


Check out this recent story on ALEC and environmental issues in the Los Angeles Times by Tom Hamburger and Neela Banjeree, "State legislative bills raise conservative group's profile" (July 13, 2011) and this follow-on story by Neela Banjeree, "Common Cause accuses conservative group of lobbying, seeks IRS probe" (July 14, 2011).



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Learn MORE about the "Model Bills" ALEC Corporations Are Backing to Rewrite YOUR Rights

The Center for Media and Democracy analyzed the bills ALEC politicians and corporations voted for. More analysis is available below and also at ALEC Exposed's sister sites, PRWatch and SourceWatch.

How the bills undermine protections for our environment

Energy companies, corporate polluters, factory farms and their politician allies voted to change environmental rules by:

  • Additionally, the "Limited Immunity for Persons Responding to Oil Spills Act" is available through the Heartland Institute website; it would free corporations from liability when they cause injury using toxic chemical dispersants to clean oil spills (as happened with the BP-funded cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon spill).


For a full list of bills from this section, click here


Some of this Corporate Agenda Has Already Become Law

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Wisconsin Governor and ALEC alumni Scott Walker included language in the 2011 budget bill designed to end mandatory recycling programs for Wisconsin communities. More than 1,000 municipalities in Wisconsin rely on a small landfill tax to fund local recycling programs. Walker wanted to use the money collected from the landfill tax for a new, privatized economic development agency. The proposal outraged county leaders and administrators as well as Republican legislators. Republican State Rep. John Nygren questioned whether the budget measure would really save money in the long run, when balanced with the increased cost of maintaining and building expensive new landfills. The Governor’s actions made no financial sense, but they did comport with ALEC’s Resolution on Packaging and the Municipal Solid Waste Stream, which criticizes "interfering government mandates” and promotes a free market approach to waste removal and recycling. In the end, cost-effective recycling prevailed in Wisconsin. Learn more here.

Did You Know about these Bills?

Eliminating Democratic Land Use Controls

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One model bill from ALEC's member corporations would repeal ALL land use planning and zoning for rural counties by both county and state governments. Under this bill, property could be used for any purpose, without regard for single-family, agricultural, or industrial zoning, or environmental land use restrictions.

This would prevent a local government from controlling development, from choosing to support small businesses rather than big-box retailers, from limiting certain businesses -- like nude bars -- near residences or schools, and would prevent local governments from keeping polluting industries out of their community.

Without zoning laws, neighbors who were concerned about a particular property would have to bring individual lawsuits to protect their rights against nuisances like smells or pollution from factory farms. They would not be able to act democratically to set rules for zoning in their towns. Land use could only be restricted by contracts -- but not restricted in perpetuity -- which would require individuals to spend their own money to protect community interests, thereby putting community growth in the hands of the wealthy few.

Is a local legislator who was elected to represent YOU actually protecting the interests of corporations instead of YOU and YOUR FAMILY?


Protecting Factory Farming from Regulation

One of the lesser publicized ventures of Koch Industries was its large-scale confined animal feed operations (CAFOs). At one point, Koch Beef Company was one of the largest cattle feeders in the U.S. When it sought to increase one of its already huge operations by 20,000 head of cattle, workers living a few hundred feet away expressed concerns for their health, and neighbors complained about an exponential increase in smell from Koch’s CAFO. But Koch persuaded friendly state regulators that the neighbors' concerns lacked “technical merit”-- although it ultimately divested the feed lots, while maintaining its Matador Cattle Company and grazing operations near Yellowstone National Park, along with other agricultural operations.

Is ALEC interested in protecting CAFOs? You bet. One of its bills, the “Right to Farm Act,” would bar any lawsuits by neighbors claiming nuisance from any activities that are typical in farming, including industrial agriculture. If this bill passed, it would likely benefit ALEC's agribusinesses members.


Prohibiting Local Efforts on GMO Food and Food Safety

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Another model bill from ALEC's member corporations prohibits local, city or county governments from limiting pesticide use, requiring that communities do whatever officials in the state capitol decide to allow in distant towns. Another bill places the same restrictions on local efforts to restrict bio-engineered and GMO crops. If these model bills become law, local governments would be prohibited from responding to their community's concerns about pesticide use or the dangers of GMO crops. ALEC allegedly supports "federalism," or state's rights -- a theory premised on the idea that state government can better represent and respond to local interests than a more centralized federal government. But ALEC apparently does not apply this logic to relations between local and state government.


More Helpful Resources

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Additional resources on ALEC's corporate agenda:

ALEC Exposed is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). CMD does NOT accept donations from for-profit corporations or government agencies. More information about CMD is available here. You can reach CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves, via editor AT ALECexposed.org. Privacy policy: Other than material you post to this wiki in your name, our privacy policy is that we will not disclose private personally identifiable information or data about you, such as your name, email address, or other information, unless required by law. On copyright: ALEC Exposed considers contributions to this wiki to be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License or in accordance with law. Information on how to provide us with notice regarding copyright is available at this link. Notices regarding copyright or other matters should be sent to our designated agent, Lisa Graves, via email (editor AT ALECexposed.org).