The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has lobbied against climate change legislation, health care reform, and a host of other issues. Now ALEC is lobbying for the EPA to designate palm oil as a biofuel. The EPA ruled that palm-oil-based biofuels do not meet the greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements of the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard which requires that biofuels reduce net GHG emissions by at least 20 percent compared to gasoline and diesel over their lifecycle.
ALEC filed comments about the EPA’s finding, The Hill reports. “The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to restrict the trade of tropical palm oil marks an abandonment of free trade principles that have been so beneficial to so many,” ALEC said.
Biofuels from palm oil grown the area of industrial oil palm (OP) plantations in the peatlands in Malaysia and Indonesia produce significant amounts of GHGs, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) released in February. Based on research conducted by the University of Leicester in the U.K., the study found that palm oil production produces 86 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare a year over a 50-year period, almost double the previous estimate of 50 tons. Carbon emissions are released while peat soils are drained, which is required to produce palm oil.
One of the main producers of palm oil is Indonesia, and it’s the third largest GHG emitter in the world, after China and the U.S. The country’s high deforestation rate is the main cause of its GHG emissions. In fact, the majority of Indonesia’s carbon emissions (85 percent) come from fires and forest clearing, according to a 2007 study by the World Bank and the British government.
In case you are wondering exactly what ALEC is, it claims to work to “advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.” In other words, ALEC partners with corporations and legislators to gut regulatory laws.
The website alecexposed.com calls ALEC “more powerful” than a lobby or front group. The reason is that through ALEC “corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.” Although ALEC describes itself as non-partisan, it has, according to alecexposed.com, only one Democrat out of 104 legislators in leadership positions.
Progressive groups have their eyes on ALEC. A coalition of progressive groups, which includes ColorofChange.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, launched a successful campaign to convince “about a dozen major groups to ditch ALEC,” according to Alternet.org. Earlier this month Coca-Cola announced it would pull funding for ALEC. As a result, other companies announced they also would pull funding for ALEC. The companies include PepsiCo, Kraft, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.
Photo: Wikipedia user, Whitebox