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Horn reports: "The Act's creation is directly connected to the ongoing efforts of another corporate-funded group, the Heartland Institute ... a group well plugged into the climate change denial machine."

ALEC's 'Environmental Literacy Improvement Act' mandates a 'balanced teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms.' (photo: unknown)
ALEC's 'Environmental Literacy Improvement Act' mandates a 'balanced teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms.' (photo: unknown)

Three States Pushing ALEC Bill to Require Teaching Climate Change Denial in Schools

By Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog

31 January 13


he American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - known by its critics as a "corporate bill mill" - has hit the ground running in 2013, pushing "models bills" mandating the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems.

January hasn't even ended, yet ALEC has already planted its "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act" - which mandates a "balanced" teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms - in the state legislatures of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona so far this year.

In the past five years since 2008, among the hottest years in U.S. history, ALEC has introduced its "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act" in 11 states, or over one-fifth of the statehouses nationwide. The bill has passed in four states, an undeniable form of "big government" this "free market" organization decries in its own literature.

ALEC's "model bills" are written by and for corporate lobbyists alongside conservative legislators at its annual meetings. ALEC raises much of its corporate funding from the fossil fuel industry, which in turn utilizes ALEC as a key - though far from the only - vehicle to ram through its legislative agenda through in the states.

A Frankenstein Co-Created with Heartland Institute

A DeSmogBlog investigation last year found that the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act's orgins date back to 2000.

The Act's creation is directly connected to the ongoing efforts of another corporate-funded group, the Heartland Institute - of "Heartland Institute Exposed" fame - a group well plugged into the climate change denial machine.

ALEC's Natural Resources Task Force, now known as its Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, adopted this model at a time when the Task Force was headed by Sandy Liddy Bourne. Bourne, who served in this capacity from 1999-2004, would eventually ascend to the role of Director of Legislation and Policy for ALEC in 2004.

Upon leaving ALEC in 2006, Bourne become Heartland's Vice President for Policy Strategy. Today she serves as Executive Director of the American Energy Freedom Center, an outfit she co-heads with Arthur G. Randol. Randol is a longtime lobbyist and PR flack for ExxonMobil, a corporation which endowed the climate change denial machine for years.

Heartland's website still lists Bourne as one of its "experts," stating that "Under her leadership, 20 percent of ALEC model bills were enacted by one state or more, up from 11 percent."

Importantly, Heartland is still a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force that originally passed the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act.

According to internal documents leaked to and published by DeSmogBlog in Feb. 2012, Heartland obtained funding for a "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project beginning in 2012. This cirruculum aims to teach that there "is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather."

If this sounds similar to ALEC's model bill, it should, given the fact that the two outfits share funding from the same honey pot. In fact, Heartland actively promotes the ALEC model on its website.

Model Bill Introduced in OK, CO, and AZ

Oklahoma and Colorado came first and within just over a week, Arizona followed suit in proposing the ALEC climate science "mis-education" bill.

Oklahoma: Sooner Rather than Later

On Jan. 18, the Sooner State's legislature took the lead for 2013 in pushing the ALEC climate change education model in the form of HB 1674, the "Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act."

HB 1674 calls for the teaching of "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories," including of global warming, saying it's a theory steeped in "controversy" - not that the actual scientific record thinks so.

This is necessary, the bill states, "to help students develop critical thinking skills they need in order to become intelligent, productive, and scientifically informed citizens," going on to explain that it's important to explore "differences of opinion on scientific issues."

The ALEC model similarly calls for the teaching of "critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific ... controversies." The model also mandates creation of "an atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas" in the scientific sphere.

The OK bill is sponsored by Rep. Gus Blackwell (R-61), unsurprisngly a dues-paying member of ALEC. According to a Dec. 2012 report published by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) titled, "Buying Influence," Blackwell has paid for his attendance at least one ALEC meeting with taxpayer money.

National Institute on Money in State Politics' data demonstrates that Blackwell's largest pool of campaign funding for his 2012 electoral victory came from the oil and gas industry, which gave him $28,800. This includes taking $7,500 from shale gas industry giant Chesapeake Energy, $2,350 from ConocoPhillips, and $1,000 each from Koch Industries and coal industry giant Duke Energy, among others. All of these corporations also fund ALEC.

Colorado's Same Day Affair

One sure sign of a coordinated, ALEC-lead effort is the fact that Colorado's state legislature introduced the ALEC model on the same day as did Oklahoma's. The two states, it's worth noting, share a border on Oklahoma's panhandle.

On Jan. 18, 2013, eight representatives and four senators introduced HB 13-1089, coining the bills the "Academic Freedom Acts."

Paralleling the language in the ALEC model and the Oklahoma bill, the HB 13-1089 aims to "Inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills," also recognizing that the teaching of the concept global warming "can cause controversy."

One of the senators co-sponsoring the bill, Rep. Scott Renfroe (R-13) is an ALEC dues-paying member. He's also attended at least one ALEC meeting paid for by Colorado taxpayers, according to the CMD's "Buying Influence" report.

Of the $91,000 dollars he raised for the 2012 election, over $5,000 of it came from the oil, gas and electric utilities industry, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. This includes taking money from Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko Petroleum, Williams Companies, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

The Arizona (Sun) Devils are in the Details

Eight days later, ALEC's model bill made its way to Arizona, a state sharing a "corner border" with Colorado.

Arizona's SB 1213 was introduced on Jan. 26, 2013 by six senators that, as it turns out, are all dues-paying ALEC members. Five of the six have attended conferences totally on the taxpayer dime, according to CMD's report.

SB 1213 incorporates the "critical thinking skills" operative language, the "scientific controversies" operative language and the "teaching ... global warming" can "cause controversy" operative language.

In short, SB 1213 is the same exact copycat ALEC model bill that's been proposed in both Oklahoma and Colorado.

ALEC Celebrates Groundhog Day 2013

Groundhog Day is on Feb. 2 and fittingly, ALEC and its corporate patrons continue to sing the same tune, simultaneously promoting fracking, blockading a transition to renewable energy and pushing bills mandating teaching climate change denial on par with actual science.

"It's the same old schtick every year, the guy comes out with a big old stick, raps on the door," actor Bill Murray said in the classic film "Groundhog Day." "They pull the little rat out, they talk to him, the rat talks back, then they tell us what's gonna happen."

Replace "guy" with "corporate lobbyist" and "legislators" with "rats" and that's ALEC in a nutshell, serving as a mere microcosm of the current American political system at-large. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+26 # X Dane 2013-02-01 01:22
Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma makes me think that maybe the Oklahomans or are they called okies? may not be the sharpest knives in the drawers. Since they have re-elected him a number of times. He is a stupid, stupid man. I have heard him in many senate hearing.

I also have no respect for Arizona's governor Brewer, so I am not surprised that she in on a stupid caper like this.

But I AM surprised at Colorado, I thought they were smarter than THAT.
I wonder how they will all feel when their states and people either fry, because of excessive summer heat of are swept away in floods from excessive rain.

Climate change is unpredictable it can be one or the other. We saw Texas having awful heat last summer. And we saw terrible floods late last year. I wonder if those people, victims of either, still do not believe in climate change??

When the worst of the consequences of climate change will hit, the people will curse them.
+13 # pbbrodie 2013-02-01 09:18
How much worse does it have to get to wake them up? I would think that there are quite a few people cursing them right now, the ones still alive I mean.
+32 # Todd Williams 2013-02-01 07:39
Not only has ALEC attempted, and in many case suceeded, in passing legislation affecting all of us, now it is specifically targeting our children. This lie denying human-caused globe warming has got to be stopped. This legislation has got to be reversed. And parents need to fight state legislators as well as schoolboards. I would also like to see teachers' unions active in battling this blatant attempt by big oil to destroy our environment.
+15 # Glen 2013-02-01 07:52
Emails Link Jeb Bush Education Group To Officials And ALEC

Education is up for grabs in this country. Barbara Bush pushed her son's study packets, Marvin's maybe, as a qualifying factor in receiving financial aid.

The push for privatizing schools to further herd us around in blocks of academic goo is growing as these wealthy, mad, groups take over the country.

Ask yourself: Why the hell would Jeb Bush give a real thought to education. Even ONE thought.
-26 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 08:05
IF you believe humans cause Global Warming, why was there an article elsewhere on this Site decrying limiting the breeding of Third Worlders to sustainable Levels? 2 born, 2 die, is called Replacement Reproduction, and even the Cult of Global Warming has deemed it sustainable, so verily it must be so.

HOWEVER, has anyone considered the angle that it might be a colossal MERCHANDISING effort? Think about it: Outlaw 75-cent lightbulbs, bring on the pigtail fluorescent which have poisonous mercury inside, or the $40 LED lightbulbs, which I will be the First to tell you, do not save anywhere NEAR the energy they claim. Hybrid cars cost almost TRIPLE what normal cars cost, and don't save enough gas to pay for themselves (Full disclosure: I fell for the fad too, that's how I know Hybrids don't save that much gas/money)

However, even if all these measures DID work, we keep sending Third Worlders food from our uber-polluting farms to keep their breeding going, OR we let them into our countries, whereupon they undo all our planet-saving measures.

On Earth Day, Clinton commissioned a study about how to make America sustainable. Their prime recommendation was to stop letting in Third Worlders, which require the destruction of farms and forests alike to make room for their hordes. He promptly ignored it!
+7 # pbbrodie 2013-02-01 09:28
What has being able to sustain the Third World population have to do with Global Warming? The major contributing factor of Global warming is the introduction of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, primarily from burning fossil fuels. It is not necessary to burn fossil fuels to sustain the increases in third World populations.
As for your PS comment, you obviously do not understand Global Warming at all. It is the overall global average temperature that is increasing and the fact that there are spots with record cold temperatures does not belie the fact that the average global temperature has been increasing dramatically.
If you are going to post comments, make sure you understand what you are commenting about first.
-7 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:46
Let me be a bit more blunt then. IF you believe that humans are damaging the planet, then it sounds like you are calling for fewer humans, OR for humans to give up the comforts of civilization--e xcept the leaders of this Grand Crusade, who need it to properly administrate the de-industrializ ation of the planet, right?

85% of America's oil-consumption is not cars, or even electricity, it goes to Big Ag. Most of our food product goes to feed other countries, from China to the Third World hell of your choice. Therefore, WE are burning fossil-fuels to keep THEM alive.
And more importantly, because the West was not burning fossil-fuels fast enough, China and India have graciously volunteered to increase their burning of said fuels. Instead of condemning it, people applaud this as raising their Standard of Living.

So it's good when other countries pollute, it's only OURS that needs to be punished, even when much of our pollution is to keep lesser cultures alive?
-29 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 08:08
PS, across the Northern Hemisphere, INCLUDING my hometown, there has been record snowfall, and even record rainfall in Arizona, which is why they changed it from Global Warming to "Climate Change".
We humans must be indeed magical creatures, if we can make it colder as well as hotter!

Cap&Trade and Carbon Taxes/Offsets are just ways for the Civilized World to flagellate itself for our success, and $150 BILLION in fees for the banks. This lie is very profitable!
+14 # Glen 2013-02-01 09:54
EPGAH3, changes are chaotic and unpredictable, as you yourself have observed. The main consideration is that those changes are now rapid, much more rapid than climate changes prior to the event of human contribution.

That is not to say there is not that marketing you mention. Human beings are opportunists and have pounced on money making, even predatory, activities. Capitalism does encourage that attitude, don'tchaknow. Check up on many of methods of making money after Hurricane Katrina, for instance. Those opportunists do not negate the fact of change, however.

Our atmosphere is delicate, and is reacting to human caused pollution and destruction, just as flora and fauna have reacted and died to clear cutting forests, polluting waters, and so much more.

There is no way to declare human beings are not influencing this planet adversely, causing a lot of change. A lot.
-8 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:52
Well, make up what is most important to you?
1.) Technological advancement and the comforts of the Civilized World
2.) The population of the Third World which WILL increase explosively if something is not done
3.) The Third World gaining our technological advancements and using them irresponsibly, thus outpolluting even China, on a PER CAPITA basis, if not Absolute Pollution. (Ever notice that every country that steals nuclear tech runs their own "test" rather than steal our test data along with it? Wonder if that affects climate!)
4.) The planet.

Pick ONE and we can work toward saving that, but we have to sacrifice the rest. AND I must reiterate, elsewhere on this very site, there was an article that looked fairly angry about Israel keeping Third World populations down to sustainable Levels, since they won't control themselves. Or did I "Take It Out Of Context"?
+4 # Glen 2013-02-01 15:26
It would appear you have your crises mixed and confused. Apparently, you have a certain prejudice against the losers you mention and that affect on climate issues. I, too, have issues with over population, but do not hate those who are members of the so-called third world. And yes, it will increase, because the only two alternatives to prevent it is education or force, and folks are not going for force. Education is too slow.

You also cannot assume that any country that "steals" nuclear tech will abuse it.

Comfort is not the same as survival. Many would sacrifice comfort for the planet. You know they would, if given the information.
-6 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 21:11
I DO blame the members of the Third World, they keep breeding and making us pay for it, by guilt or by forcing their way into our countries and trying to steal our success, our better way of life.
Education is only too slow because they resist it in the countries they have already fucked up, and when they come to OUR countries, we don't force them to assimilate, we tell them to keep going as they were, but on OUR dime! If we are not willing to fight Third Worlders back under control, we have to accept them overruning our countries, and destroying the world. I enjoy WATCHING zombie movies, less sanguine about LIVING in one!

As to the nukes, I don't have to ASSUME anything, it is manifest that North Korea is trying to threaten the Civilized World with their nukes, and France kicked a bunch of Third Worlders off an island, not to CIVILIZE it, but to use it as target practice.
Even without these anecdotes, why wouldn't they abuse nuclear tech? The reason research is slow is to earn the wisdom to use it responsibly. If they just steal it, they skip that part!

As to comfort, that is a big part of my point: back in 1994, National Geographic said we were in the shit with "only" 4 BILLION, it would take 6 more Earths for everyone to have a Civilized World Standard of Living. With new extraction and recycling techniques, I think 4 BILLION could live in relative comfort, or at least lower-middle-cl ass, or 8 BILLION could live like ABSOLON or Blade Runner.
-7 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 21:15
Why isn't there an international movement to curb Third World breeding? We could call it the "Leave Some Room On The Fucking Planet For The Rest Of Us" Initiative!
Once they overbreed and outstrip their resources, they will invade the Civilized World and strip it bare like locusts! Even if you are willing to trade YOUR survival for that of a Third World mega-breeder, why make that decision for the rest of us? The Third World losers have none of your qualms, they see us as the only thing between them and more resources for breeding!
Pick up a newspaper sometime, it appears that Third World losers are perfectly happy to trade the lives of Civilized World people for more of their own!
+1 # maverita 2013-02-03 21:29
Well, of course the planet is most important, but do not underestimate Gaia's ability to rid herself of humans, the latest parasite to overwhelm the balance. overpopulation is less and less a problem. Within100 years the push will be to try to recover fertility as our poisoned environment messes up our hormones. And as soon as the females in a third world country get education and access to birth control, the numbers start to drop. The birthrate in many first world countries has dropped to replacement or less. The third world is having an awful time feeding itself and so embroiled in local civil wars. you seem full of fear, but it seems misplaced.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 18:52
You misunderstand on both counts.
1.) I am COMPLETELY sure that GAIA will find some way to "restore the balance" and kill tons (literally) of humans, and I am sure it will be the exact opposites of clean, humane, or fair. Better we start now and do a controlled reduction rather than an all-out blowout later.

2.) Birth control? That's the ONE Civilized World tech that not only lesser cultures will not steal, they won't even accept as a gift! I was in a 5-on-1 "fight" (I was the one, BTW, just to clarify) with some Third Worlders for handing out FREE condoms. Since the Third World's favorite number is free, they must have resented having to take control of their breeding rates, right? The police in said country told me I was interfering with their "culture", therefore their "culture" must be based on how much they can contribute to the overpopulation of the planet.
Tell me if I "took that out of context"!

Also, how many BILLIONS will it take before GAIA's alarm and/or revenge is triggered? Starvation and disease usually keep populations in check, but the Civilized World is bound and determined to save the Third World from its fate, and thereby, share it, no?
And yes, the birthrate in many Civilized World countries has dropped to replacement, by CHOICE, or because we can't afford it while also paying for the Third World's massive broods. Or some form of eco-guilt, which is counterproducti ve, if you think about it. Whose genes would you prefer to be overrepresented ?
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 19:18
I don't know if you consider yourself an idealist or a cynic.
The idealist believes the Civilized World limits their own breeding VOLUNTARILY to spare our beleaguered Earth.
The cynic believes the Civilized World limits their own breeding VOLUNTARILY to focus wealth on one or two children, make sure they turn out great, possibly even better than the previous generation.

Either way, breeding less allows the Civilized World to build up a surplus. Breeding MORE means that lesser cultures strip their countries bare, then note that we have a surplus. They usurp and use up whatever surplus we may have accumulated, until our countries are just as bad off as theirs.

Indeed, at least in America, our cutting back seems to have been interpreted as an Open Invitation to the Third World to take up the slack and then some, as far as America's overpopulation goes.

I read this fable when I was young about ants storing up resources and grasshoppers starving because they used all theirs up immediately. I never read the part about the grasshoppers storming the anthill, taking the surplus from the ants, and making the ants die in their own anthill.
+11 # Todd Williams 2013-02-01 09:57
EPGAH3, that is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read on this site. Call it what yhou will, global warming or climate change, it's the same thing. I cannot understand why people like you reject basic climate science. These are facts. Facts, not conjecture. I've just about quit trying to explain climate change (global warming) to people who are close-minded.
-7 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:54
I've been preaching about overpopulation being bad for this planet for 17 years now, but overpopulation is now considered a VERY Good Thing, and no correlation to "Climate Change", right?
Let them breed as much as they want, my Blessing, more people=less resources for each, more clashes, economic or military, over them. I'd say that prophecy is coming true, wouldn't you?
-7 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 11:04
Please remember, Third World losers getting our tech DOES poison us all, as they never evolved our EPA, no Environmental Regulations. I have never seen a Containment Field around any of these countries, and their excess people are dumped on the Civilized World, so I have to believe that what they do affects us all.
Look up E-Waste, and read about countries in Africa melting down plastic and metal and not understanding about the toxic fumes they let off.
Or more directly, China slipping lead into everything from children's toys to pet food. Their pollution really did affect us negatively. Whether it was intentional or not, that is conjecture. BUT their smog has reached "record" Levels, and again, no Containment Field.
Mexico turned the Rio Grande into a toxic stew. And when their people come here, the first thing they buy to celebrate invading the Civilized World is a big, honkin' polluting truck!

We can be as clean as we want, as expensive as that is, but lesser cultures will MORE than make up for it. This is not a ZERO sum game, this is a very NEGATIVE sum game. We keep cutting back, their pollution undoes everything we do and then some. How do we stop them?
-1 # maverita 2013-02-03 21:32
Where did you say you got your education?
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 18:44
From actually visiting some of these countries, mostly.
+8 # Regina 2013-02-01 11:08
The crackpots are destroying science education from the ground up. Why are the National Academies and AAAS not getting into the fray and counteracting their anti-science cabal? Denying science will not derail the consequences of their denial. We will not be "forgiven" our resulting ignorance. But yes, the flat earth is only 6000 years old.
+5 # Nominae 2013-02-01 20:32
Quoting Regina:
The crackpots are destroying science education from the ground up. Why are the National Academies and AAAS not getting into the fray and counteracting their anti-science cabal? Denying science will not derail the consequences of their denial. We will not be "forgiven" our resulting ignorance. But yes, the flat earth is only 6000 years old.

Excellent points, but it is simply not the job or the position of Science to get down into "the mud, the blood and the beer" with fanatic anti-science and anti-intellectu al nimrods who have been full-out indoctrinated by the fossil fuels industry's "tobacco scientists".

True Scientists are *MUCH* more valuable to us PERFORMING actual Science. The lovely thing about TRUE Science is that anyone who doubts the data or the outcome can perform the SAME experiments THEMSELVES to CHECK the original hypotheses.

This is that apparently broadly misunderstood concept actually CALLED "The Scientific Method" ! It has been working since the Renaissance until "tobacco scientists" were found who are paid to bastardize and corrupt the Scientific Method itself, and to launch a disinformation campaign calculated to mollify the "low information voter" relative to the life-threatenin g FACTS of REAL Science.

I love your point in re: "Flat Earthers". NO, folks, people who profess that the Earth is Flat are NOT presenting "another equally valid hypothesis" that needs further study. They are simply full of SH*T !
-1 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-02-03 19:53
EPGAH 3, so-called third world peoples are not the purveyors of the polluting violence that is continuiing to change our climate. It is the richest countires in the world (i.e. the US and our imperialist allies) that are responsible. Check the facts. How do we stop 'them,' as you say is not the right question to be asking--apart from it being hateful and racist. What is the right question to be asking is, What does it mean to be human? (Thank you, Dr. King; and we have to ask this in the twenty-first century?!)

It is unthinkable to me that you actually believe what you do.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 18:40
To be human is to THINK of the consequences of our actions. Or at least not breed simply because we can't keep our legs together. That's what animals do. If lesser cultures truly cannot control themselves, then I am fine with them being held to a lesser behavioral standard, BUT then they should give up self-determinat ion, since they inherently cannot handle it.

As to Dr. King, look at all that is being done in his Name. Government backed reverse-racism, because people of a different skin-color do not feel they can win without Government cheats. And if they win WITH cheats, how can they possibly consider themselves the equal of one who WOULD have won if they hadn't cheated?

People in the Civilized World think: My income is X, it costs Y to raise each kid, therefore, I can afford X/Y kids (Optionally minus a constant K)

A Third Worlder thinks, "Oops, I popped out more kids than I can afford. The Civilized World OWES me enough food, money, and medicine to take care of them, and if I'm not getting 'my share', I'll invade their countries!"

And I already admitted America's pollution is largely due to our intensive farming, which is only necessary to feed Third World mega-breeders.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 18:43
If you want to cut back on pollution, stop Big Ag, make only enough food for America and those allies you say we have. Let the Third World find a new Population Equilibrium.

Of course, you'd complain about that as "Lazy American Genocide", rather than accept that as proof they are breeding more than they can take care of, right?
As someone wrote to me, GAIA WILL rid itself of parasites, do we want to wait for that fairly random distribution of death, or start now when we can at least make some modicum of choice who survives?

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