ALEC Climate Deniers Deny Denying Climate Change, Threaten Legal Action Against Common Cause

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We here at ProgressNow NM (and our affiliates around the country) have been on the forefront of the battle with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative corporate lobbying group.

We’ve outed previously-unknown ALEC members within the state legislature, revealed ALEC policies conservative New Mexico politicians were trying to pass off as their own, and shed light on the way this shady group operates within our state.

CLICK HERE to catch up on our ALEC Watch programs

There were large-scale corporate and individual defections from ALEC a few years ago after a sustained campaign from a number of progressive groups across the country began telling the truth about ALEC’s harmful agendas (“Stand Your Ground” laws that allowed George Zimmerman in Florida to go free; a sustained focus on privatizing pretty much everything; “Right to Work” laws; etc. etc.).Privatize All the Things

But you may have missed that earlier this week Common Cause — the non-partisan good government group — became the latest potential victim of ALEC’s big money machine. ALEC attorneys are trying to silence criticism coming from Common Cause about ALEC’s climate change denial. Even though ALEC has a clear history of denying the fact of man-made climate change — they promote bills that push uncertainty about climate science, host climate-change deniers at their conferences, author publications denying climate change exists, etc. — the corporate group is now threatening legal action against Common Cause for calling them out on it.

Here’s what went down earlier this week:

Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and a parade of desertions by some of the nation’s largest corporations, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is threatening potential legal action in an attempt to silence one of its critics – Common Cause.

An attorney for the corporate lobby group has sent a “cease and desist” letter demanding that Common Cause retract statements that ALEC is denying climate change or else face possible legal action.

“ALEC’s demands and legal threats are an effort to shut down debate about its policies and matters of national importance. They seek to chill our right to advocate for the public interest,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Common Cause. “It won’t work.”

Attorneys at WilmerHale, representing Common Cause, responded in a letter last week that Common Cause’s statements are “legitimate assertions of opinion” that are “intended to foster greater national awareness and uninhibited, robust discussion around a critical public policy issue,” and that the organization stands by the fairness and accuracy of its statements.

ALEC’s letter claims that it does not deny climate change, and cites its 1998 model legislation acknowledging that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere oFf the planet,” which “may lead to demonstrable changes in climate.” (Emphasis added).

However, ALEC’s letter to Common Cause omits the next two sections of that model legislation, which go on to say:

(C)   Such activity may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes.

(D)  Further, a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation. (Emphasis added).

In their response to ALEC, Common Cause’s attorneys point out that climate denial is well understood in the high-profile public debate to include those who “question or cast doubt on the scientific evidence regarding climate change or its impact.”

“We stand by our opinion, will continue to participate in these important national debates and will not be strong-armed into silence,” Rapoport said.

Common Cause also produced a great fact sheet detailing ALEC’s long history of climate denial. Check that out HERE.