ALEC: What The Corporate-Backed Group Wants You to Think About Climate Change
A growing number of state legislatures insist that the international scientific community is wrong about climate change, and that young people shouldn’t get caught up in the hype.
“Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change,” the L.A. Times reported.
The Huffington Post picked up a recent story by DeSmogBlog that referenced similar bills currently under review in Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona. The report traced this unlikely vein of legislation to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a non-partisan organization that works to influence state-level policy.
These education standards all stemmed from ALEC’s Environmental Literacy Improvement Act, a model bill that promotes a skeptical approach to climate change education. The bill cannot be found on the organization’s website, but has been made available by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which published the website ALEC Exposed and The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank with ties to ALEC.
The language of the model bill bears a strong resemblance to that of the individual state bills. It also outlines a specific goal to “not include instruction in political action skills nor encourage political action activities” in environmental education programs.
Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, told Campus Progress that the bill is “part of a longtime agenda” within ALEC to deny humanity's role in climate change. Graves explained that ALEC’s membership consists of both state legislators and corporate representatives who convene in closed meetings to introduce and vote on model legislation. She said that this assembly includes lobbyists for some of the world’s largest coal and oil companies.
Journalist Bill Moyers said of the organization, “It sounds like lobbying. It looks like lobbying. It smells like lobbying. But ALEC says it’s not lobbying.”
ALEC has a storied history of pushing controversial model legislation in states across the nation. Leagues of corporations abandoned the clandestine organization when their support for voter suppression efforts were uncovered and publicized and the council was also criticized for pushing Stand Your Ground laws similar to the one on the books in Florida—which was credited for keeping George Zimmerman initially from behind bars for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.
ALEC’s director of communications failed to respond to interview requests by Campus Progress in time the publishing of this article.
Cody Bond is a reporter with Campus Progress.