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States' renewable energy mandates attacked

| Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank skeptical of climate change science, has joined with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at reversing state renewable energy mandates across the country.

The Electricity Freedom Act, adopted by the council's board of directors in October, would repeal state standards requiring utilities to get a portion of their electricity from renewable power, calling it “essentially a tax on consumers of electricity.”

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have binding renewable standards; in the absence of federal climate legislation, these initiatives have become the subject of intense political battles.

The legislative council, or ALEC, is a conservative-leaning group of state legislators from all 50 states that has sought to roll back climate regulation in the past. .

The involvement of The Heartland Institute, which posted a billboard in May comparing those who believe in global warming with domestic terrorist Theodore Kaczynski, shows the breadth of conservatives' efforts to undermine environmental initiatives on the state and federal levels. In many cases, the groups involved accept money from oil, gas and coal companies that compete against renewable energy suppliers.

James Taylor is The Heartland Institute's senior fellow for environmental policy.

“Renewable power mandates are very costly to consumers throughout the 50 states, and we feel it is important that consumers have access to affordable electricity,” Taylor said. “We wrote the model legislation, and I presented it. I didn't have to give that much of a case for it.”

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