Tags: Climate Change | American Legislative Exchange Council | alec | common cause | climate change

Conservative Group Angry at Being Called Climate Change Deniers

By    |   Tuesday, 07 April 2015 06:34 AM

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group which describes itself as favoring limited government, free markets and federalism, rejected characterizations leveled by environmental groups that would place it in the climate-change denial camp, the National Journal reported.

The legislative council, a partnership of state lawmakers and corporations that generally opposes government regulation, said it does not deny climate change, accepts that "human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere" and acknowledges that this "may lead to demonstrable changes in climate, including a warming of the planetary mean temperature."

The council's attorneys wrote to Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters demanding that they "cease and desist" from claiming that ALEC denies climate change or risk defamation lawsuits, the Journal reported.

Experts say it would be difficult for a political group that engages in advocacy to take legal action against an adversarial interest group, charging that it had made "defamatory" statements resulting in reputational harm. Proving libel, slander or defamation can be extremely difficult.

"Indeed, it's hard to imagine how ALEC could show any one of those three, much less all, given the antiregulatory initiatives on which ALEC's reputation is built," said Georgetown University law professor Rebecca Tushnet, the Journal reported.

The group could, alternatively, consider filing a civil suit, arguing that it had lost corporate members because of how its position on climate has been characterized. But legal analysts say this approach, too, is also unlikely to be successful, the Journal reported.

At stake is what defines climate denial, according to the Journal. Some would apply the label to individuals who contest the scientific consensus that human activity is the major cause of harmful global warming.

Were ALEC to pursue its warning letter with a lawsuit, it would take this semantic and political dispute over the "denial" label into court, according to the Journal.

Environmentalist critics of ALEC insist it does, in fact, engage in "climate change denial" on behalf of the energy industry. ALEC emphasizes "scientific uncertainty" and implies there may be "beneficial climatic changes."

It works to undermine non-fossil fuel energy sources, chips away at home solar energy alternatives, and strongly supported the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the environmentalists said.

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The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative partnership of state lawmakers and corporations, has warned two environmental groups to "cease and desist" from claiming that it denies climate change or risk defamation lawsuits, the National Journal reported.
American Legislative Exchange Council, alec, common cause, climate change
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 06:34 AM
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