Koch-Funded Group Prods Trump’s EPA to Say Climate Change Not a Risk

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  • Model bill aims to prod Trump to rescind endangerment finding
  • ALEC has faced defections over its criticisms of climate rules

Fighting Climate Change, Without the U.S.

A lobbying group funded by Koch Industries Inc. and coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. is moving to prod the Environmental Protection Agency to rescind its earlier determination that climate change is a risk to human health and welfare.

The American Legislative Exchange Council will consider a resolution that would be offered to state legislatures to adopt as a way of pressuring the Trump administration to uproot his predecessor’s efforts to address climate change, attacking the very science that shows temperatures rising and storms increasing.

The EPA’s 2009 endangerment finding established that climate change warrants regulation. 

"So long as the endangerment finding remains in place, efforts to roll back climate regulations will likely fail," according to the draft document, which is on the group’s website and may be voted on in an ALEC meeting next month. "Research has shown that recent changes in temperatures, sea level rise, and the frequency of extreme weather events are far from unusual in the historic and geophysical record."

That position risks opening a new rift in the group, which has faced defections from corporate titans such as Ford Motor Co. and BP Plc. for its efforts against renewable energy and carbon regulation. ALEC is a group of free-market organizations, corporate representatives and state lawmakers that adopts model bills which lawmakers then introduce in state legislatures nationwide. ALEC has denied that it rejects mainstream climate science, but it has downplayed the risks.

"At this early stage in our process it’s merely a proposal for discussion," said Bill Meierling, an ALEC spokesman.

Companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., which says it accounts for climate change in its investment decisions, have also sponsored the organization, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

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"I think it will receive overwhelming support from the state legislators on the task force, but the private members will be divided," Myron Ebell, the director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment and a skeptic of global warming. "That is because the private members now include a number of renewable energy companies that depend on subsidies and mandates and oppose free markets."

The resolution may be voted on at the group’s policy summit in Nashville, Tennessee next month. It’s part of an effort by groups such as the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to prod President Donald Trump’s EPA into erasing the basis for any climate regulations. So far, EPA has steered clear of trying to deny the basic science and crafted its moves to rollback President Barack Obama’s regulations as necessary because of legal constraints.

"This is not a fight that Exxon or the utilities would want," David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a San Francisco group that supports renewable energy. "This is not there first foray into denial but since then they have been pretty quiet on this stuff."

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