You are hereHome >> ExxonMobil partners with shadowy lobbying group, ALEC
ExxonMobil partners with shadowy lobbying group, ALEC
Yesterday, ProPublica reported that ExxonMobil partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy, ultra-conservative lobbying group to oppose fracking regulations:
This weekend, as part of a story on ALEC's political activity, The New York Times noted that the group recently adopted "model legislation" on fracking chemical disclosure, based on a bill passed in Texas last year. According to The Times, the model bill was "sponsored within ALEC" by ExxonMobil, which runs a major oil and gas operation through its subsidiary, XTO Energy.
Texas' disclosure law allows fracking companies to declare chemicals used in frack fluid 'trade secrets' in order to avoid disclosing them to the public. Aside from state regulators, only landowners whose property includes or is adjacent to a frack site may challenge companies' declaration.
In a section of the 2005 energy bill what came to be known as the 'Halliburton loophole' for the key role that former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney played in crafting the law, Congress exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act in, preventing the EPA from regulating the drilling method in order to protect groundwater. As a result, states have a patchwork of chemical disclosure laws that vary widely in their specifics.
ALEC's role in crafting state legislation is highly controversial. A Common Cause report offers the following description of the organization:
While ostensibly a nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, ALEC's primary purpose is to provide a vehicle for its corporate members to lobby state legislators and to deduct the costs of such efforts as charitable contributions. ALEC drafts "model" legislation provided by its corporate and legislative members, and lobbies for the adoption of that legislation.
Although ALEC's board is composed of state legislators, its corporate members have the power to veto proposed 'model legislation' and provide the vast majority of the group's funding. In addition to writing 'model legislation,' ALEC provides legislators with talking points and voting guides, makes one-on-one lobbying calls, and even offers all-expenses-paid retreats to annual conferences for select conservative lawmakers.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that ExxonMobil is using a corrupt, anti-democratic organization like ALEC as a vehicle for its legislative agenda. Despite claims that fracking can be done safely, all evidence indicates that fracking can't even be done profitably unless the industry is exempted from the most important safety and health regulations.
Still, it's appalling that ExxonMobil, the largest gas producer in the US and most profitable corporation on earth, is willing to subvert our democratic process for its bottom line, all the while endangering the health, safety, and property of thousands of families across the country.
Join the Movement
Your support means the world to us. Make a donation to Water Defense. In 2012, we will mobilize thousands of Americans and protect our communities from natural gas drilling. Thank you for donating to empower this movement.