Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy is an Alabama-based is a 501(c)(4) group that describes itself as " a coalition of working people, business owners, environmentalists, and trade organizations who are fighting for fair, responsible energy policies. PACE believes that the national conversation about the future of energy must include discussions about the cost of particular energy alternatives, not just their environmental benefits." The group lists the Alabama Pulp & Paper Council, Manufacture Alabama and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as its "Official Partners".
PACE was incorporated in February 2009 by William D. Lineberry, an attorney with the Birmingham, Ala. office of Balch & Bingham -- a firm that lobbies on behalf of the Southern Company and its Alabama Power subsidiary. Lineberry also serves on the tax committees of the Business Council of Alabama as well as Manufacture Alabama -- both of which are partners in PACE. PACE's other members include the Chamber of Commerce divisions in Alabama and Tennessee, and the IBEW System Council U-19, which represents 3,000 Alabama Power employees.
Working People for Fair Energy and coal ash regulations
Pace is also part of the Working People for Fair Energy (WPFE), another 501(c)(4) group that describes itself as "a non-profit organization devoted to fighting for energy laws that are fair and affordable to working people and low-income families." It was started by Dr. Charles Steele Jr., former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization founded in 1957 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. While appearing to be a group dedicated to environmental justice and working families, a Facing South Investigation found that WPFE has close ties to industry interests with a financial stake in fighting impending EPA coal ash regulation. On Sep. 14, 2010, Steele testified against coal ash regulation at a North Carolina EPA hearing on the issue, claiming that the costs would disproportionately burden the most economically vulnerable Americans. The research cited by Steele in his account of his EPA testimony came from a group called the Affordable Power Alliance (APA) led by conservative African-American Christian minister Harry R. Jackson Jr. APA in turn is affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality, founded in the 1940s as a civil rights organization but which in more recent years has supported anti-environmental initiatives such as expanded oil drilling while accepting money from ExxonMobil and other corporations. "Coal and natural gas are the new civil rights battleground," CORE Chairman Roy Innis has said, "because without these sources, 'we' cannot enjoy this great society."
In 1994, Charles Steele was elected to the Alabama state senate, and reelected three times before resigning to become president of the SCLC in November 2004. While in the Senate, Steele chaired the Industrial Recruitment Committee. Alabama Power was one of the biggest contributors to his campaigns. When Steele left the state senate in 2004 to head SCLC, the organization was in trouble financially, and Steele built a $3 million headquarters for the organization with a capital campaign headed by Mike Garrett, president and CEO of Georgia Power, "whom Steele got to know during his days in the Alabama legislature," as Ebony magazine reported.
In an interview with Facing South, Steele said he didn't see a problem with WPFE's and PACE's relationship with industries that have a financial stake in fighting coal ash regulation: "Our issues are the same," he said. Instead, Steele likens what will happen should EPA regulate coal ash as hazardous waste to a "revolution": "You better get ready," Steele told Facing South. "This is like the civil rights movement -- we're going to have to take it to the streets."
- Lance Brown, Executive Director
Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy
P.O. Box 70072,
Montgomery, AL 36107
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- Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, "About Us", Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy website, accessed May 2009.
- Sue Sturgis, "SPECIAL REPORT: Industry wraps coal ash regulation fight in the mantle of civil rights" Facing South, September 30, 2010.
- "Working People for Fair Energy: About Us" Working People for Fair Energy Website, accessed September 2010.
- Charles Steele, "A national renewable energy standard is a mistake" Daily Caller, July 15, 2010.
- Cosby Woodruff, "Greenpeace founder claims group now energy inefficient," Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama), May 21, 2009.
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