by A Siegel
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a front organization, in essence, for pay-to-play corporate interests to get slavish state legislators to submit cookie-cutter, lobbyist-written legislation in state after state after state. From promoting for-profit prisons to criminalizing exposure of factory-farm animal-rights abuses to anti-labor, the ALEC legislative agenda promotes privatization of profits and socialization of costs. With the Republican takeover of the Virginia House of Delegates and Governor’s mansion, ALEC had the door opened to push their anti-society agenda on issue after issue. Fortunately, the Democratic Senate’s Brick Wall has put the kibosh to many of these destructive items passed by the extremist House Republicans.
Today, there is a major waypoint in one of ALEC’s focus arenas: undermining efforts to act on climate through promotion of fossil-foolish agenda items. The Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote today on HB 1257 which is the Guarantee the Right to New Methane Polluting Stranded Assets in Buildings Act. Promoted with an appeal to ‘protect a person’s right to choose’, HB1257 would ban Virginia localities from enacting bans on future natural gas installation in the built infrastructure. ALEC has been using conservative, anti-science state legislatures to preempt more liberal communities seeking to move to protect local health and pursue tools to reduce climate (and other) emissions. The most fruitful path for the United States to boost its economic performance, improve human health, increase energy resiliency and security, and act to remove emissions is to “electrify everything while cleaning up the electricity supply”. Banning natural gas in new construction, a path adopted in an increasing number of localities and states (with Richmond City, VA, in the early stages of exploring a measure along these lines), is a key part of this strategy.
Preventing this is a key objective of the methane (incorrectly called “natural gas”) industry. Building gas connections to new buildings opens the door for decades of additional sales with building (home, commercial, industrial) owners facing future dilemmas as to whether to stay with polluting and increasingly expensive to operate gas appliances or take the significant financial cost to retrofit and eliminate their methane stranded assets. Far more efficient (financially, energy, and otherwise) is to not dump money into gas hookups and go all-electric from the get-go. HB1257 wants to preempt local communities from even having the right to consider whether this is the best path forward for their community.
If you wish to urge Virginia Senate legislators to reject HB1257, here is a quick tool to contact the Committee’s Senators.