Koch Front Groups Americans For Prosperity And ALEC Have Taken Over New Hampshire

With Republican super-majorities in the New Hampshire senate and house, the Koch front groups American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) have carefully orchestrated a campaign to remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

In 2008, New Hampshire joined RGGI, which is a market-based regulatory program that cuts greenhouse gas emissions and has created 1,130 jobs as a result of the energy efficient benefits. While cleaning the environment, RGGI has cumulatively generated $28.2 million in revenue for New Hampshire.

Koch Industries, because they have manufacturing plants in the Northeast and release 300 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution every year, stand to profit greatly by repealing RGGI. To increase their bottom line, ALEC — a Koch-funded group that drafts model legislation for conservative state legislators — has written legislation to repeal regional climate programs:

WHEREAS, there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates and the consequential effect of the increasing costs of doing business in the State of ______;

WHEREAS, forcing business, industry, and food producers to reduce carbon emissions through government mandates and cap-and-trade policies under consideration for the regional climate initiative will increase the cost of doing business, push companies to do business with other states or nations, and increase consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food;

Compare to the anti-RGGI bill sponsored and introduced to the House by state Rep. Richard Barry (R):

I. There has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon dioxide emissions reduction mandates and the consequential effect of the increased costs of doing business in New Hampshire.

II. Businesses, industries, and food producers have been forced to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as a result of government mandates and cap and trade policies through the regional greenhouse gas initiative, which has increased the cost of doing business, pushed companies to do business with other states or nations, and increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food.

When asked to explain the language in the bill at a public hearing, Barry nervously said that the bill’s sponsors did not write that particular section. State Rep. James Garrity (R), Chair of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, responded by saying that “[o]ur committee does not feel that editorials belong in laws.”

After ALEC wrote the bill, Koch’s Americans For Prosperity began orchestrating broad campaigns to drum up support for the legislation:

– Koch’s AFP flooded New Hampshire with robocalls in support of the bill to repeal RGGI.

– At an event sponsored by ALEC, AFP Vice-President for Policy Phil Kepern publicly voiced his opposition of NH’s membership in RGGI. New Hampshire AFP Director Corey Lewandoski followed suit, saying, “It does nothing to reduce greenhouse gases because jobs and businesses just move to other states.”

ALEC’s text in the repeal bill was ultimately dropped, but the amended legislation to remove New Hampshire from RGGI overwhelmingly passed the House last week. If the bill makes it through the Senate and overtakes Gov. John Lynch’s veto, New Hampshire will be the first state to pull out of RGGI, threatening the wildly successful clean energy program’s future viability for the entire region.

There is a glimmer of hope: Not every state Republican is under the thrall of the Koch brothers. On Monday, state Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Seacoast) broke party lines, saying she wanted to “save the standards for carbon emissions.”

ThinkProgress / By Paul Breer

Posted at April 6, 2011, 6:03am

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