The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC, so named to put a veneer of respectability on its conservative business law agenda) held its national political summit last week in San Diego. In the presence of lawmakers and state officials (including Republican Governor-elect Youngkin of Virginia), the CEFTA’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force voted in favor of two model legislation (which conservative lawmakers can pick up and use in their states) that currently position / future climate policy as discriminatory against fossil fuel companies.
The run-up to the vote included an email from Jason Issac of the Texas Public Policy Foundation who read,
The following model policy is based on the anti-BDS legislation supported by the CEFTA regarding Israel and was recently adopted in Texas to include discrimination against fossil fuels. Voting for this model policy and encouraging more state legislatures to adopt it will send a strong message that states will fight back against awakened capitalism.
Because anti-BDS laws have been so successful and other stars are lining up (on purpose) for Republicans, this is very alarming and means that the pressure on big business to disengage from fossil fuels could come to a halt.
One of the most successful (but still not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination) lobbying practices for the displacement, murder and deprivation of civil rights of the Palestinian people by Israel has been the Boycott, Divestment movement. and Sanction (BDS). Individuals and groups are boycotting / divesting companies that benefit the Israeli government and lobby US politicians for sanctions against the country.
In the late 2010s, in response to the rise of the BDS movement, lawmakers adopted a policy to limit the freedoms of these participants. Participating people and businesses could lose government contracts (catering, construction, tech, anything) and more if they support BDS. States and municipalities can refuse disaster relief whether or not the person / company is participating in BDS.
If that sounds like a First Amendment violation, that’s because it is. However, because Israel is an important economic and political ally of the United States, the laws have been upheld in the name of national defense. We have done this throughout the history of the United States, but the Red Fear and the War on Terror have done the most damage. Yes we
The kicker is that anti-BDS laws are quite bipartisan. Between the power of the evangelical electoral bloc, our need for allies in our eternal wars in the Middle East, and our history with colonialism, most Republicans and about half of Democrats have helped codify this legislation. Even though organizations like the ALCU, for example, have loosened the scope a bit, anti-BDS laws still hold in many states. Energy has been tied to national security before, so it’s no exaggeration to see someone use it again, but it’s pretty bleak with what CAFTA is pushing.
This push by the CEFTA is so messy even before its bad intentions of slowing climate action already almost too late, but even as an idea. Forcing banks and private companies to work with the fossil fuel giants as they diversify their portfolios and move away from fossil fuels is ludicrous.
Banks and big corporations aren’t going green because it’s cheaper, or because they’re trying to fool investors. They see the writing on the wall and (most importantly) the financial gain of public goodwill built by taking action on (or taking a stand on) responsible climate action. Republicans might forget what accountability is because they just finished redrawing the political maps to pick the next decade of voters and are working to overturn future elections. Yet businesses feel it hits the bottom line if they don’t respond to their customers.
Fossil fuel companies have made banking over the last century and have been profitable enough to pay politicians. I’m not congratulating, but some of the biggest oil and gas companies since the early 2000s (at least) have invested in green tech, if only marginally. If they want to be competitive in the future, they need to adapt, not hang on to what has worked for them in the past. The politicians who own oil and gas while not preparing America’s public infrastructure for this necessary and inevitable change is not only a waste of time, but actively counterproductive to the progress we will be need to do at some point.
Fortunately, anti-BDS laws are still being challenged, and with bigger stress testers (Ben & Jerry’s). However, the anti-BDS framework, at its core, continues for the time being, so EDEA actually has legs to stand on. Also, as climate change is a national defense issue, once everyone understands it, this EDEA option will seem appealing to the conservative crowd that has gone from “climate change is not real” to “good”. it is, but there is nothing we can do. about that.”
No matter who is in power in Washington, those who support an EDEA come from members of the executive and legislative branches of states across the country. The language harnesses the power of “Critical Race Theory” and anti-BDS laws.
(Going through The New Republic, image: Creative Commons / Richard Hurd.)
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