image: keystone pipeline alec

24-Hour Push to Say No to ALEC on Keystone Pipeline

In one corner: powerful and profitable big polluters and their corporate front group ALEC, secretly pushing pro-pipeline resolutions in state legislatures.

And up against ALEC: people power! Progressive groups led by Bill McKibben and 350.org, are currently attempting to collect 500,000 signatures in 24 hours from people concerned about the likely effect of Keystone on the environment.  This is a key week in the debate over the pipeline, with a vote expected in the Senate within days that might just determine its fate.

For almost 40 years, major US corporations have used ALEC as a vehicle to promote their profit-driven model legislation, disguising the work of their own lobbyists and lawyers behind the scenes. From a Machiavellian perspective it makes sense: those who stand to directly profit from a particular bill are never really going to be viewed in the public eye as objective, so corporations use ALEC and state legislators as a surrogate, who they can then point to in support of their own efforts to make something happen.They can say: “Look how much support for this we have in the states”, and it’s difficult for people to argue with that because it looks like the grassroots talking, but it’s often actually a corporate lobbyist pulling some strings.

I recently wrote about another example of this, when Florida Rep. Rachel Burgin introduced an ALEC resolution calling for a reduction in corporate taxes and embarrassingly forgot to remove the ALEC mission statement. Unfortunately this tactic of using state legislators to introduce industry-friendly resolutions is used frequently, and it’s exactly what’s happening with Keystone right now, with an ALEC model bill in support of the pipeline.

In the past two weeks, at least two states have introduced ALEC’s model‘Resolution in Support of the Keystone XL Pipeline’- Indiana [SR 103] and Washington [SJM 8018]. The language of both is almost word-for-word the same as the ALEC model (minus the mission statement). If passed, both states will send a copy of “their” resolution to the US Senate, signaling how these three states expect the Senators to vote this week.

We don’t actually know who wrote this ALEC model bill, which of course is the reason ALEC is involved in the first place–they know how to keep corporate secrets. Koch Industries could be the author; they have been bankrolling ALEC for years. But we don’t know and we are unlikely to find out, which is the way that it’s designed to work. This effort is just one part of the energy industry’s enormous lobbying effort over the $7 billion proposed pipeline, but it’s one that those who stand to profit work hard to keep secret.

Trying their hardest to shine the light on what’s happening here is a large coalition of progressive and environmental groups, aiming to collect a remarkable 500,000 signatures from all those opposing the pipeline, and do it in just 24 hours.

It only took 6 hours and 54 minutes.

“Um, I don’t quite believe it,” tweeted 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who is appearing on tonight’s Colbert Report show to discuss the climate crisis. “Whaddya say we just keep going?

Well, whaddya say?

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About Nick Surgey

Nick Surgey is staff counsel at Common Cause. Follow him on Twitter @NickSurgeyCC.

4 Responses to “24-Hour Push to Say No to ALEC on Keystone Pipeline”

  1. Keystone is bad for this country.

  2. Keystone is bad for this country.

  3. Keystone is bad for this country.

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