Who is Representative Phil King Really Representing?

capitol-pixabay 2I examined in the past how some of our state’s most prominent statewide politicians are acting against Texas interests by opposing the upcoming Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). Now I’m not one to exclude anyone from the spotlight, so I thought I’d shine some attention on State Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), who also recently spoke out against the CPP.

Phil King has been a member of the Texas House of Representatives since 1998, so one may assume he is well-versed in Texas and what makes sense for the state. But although he was elected to serve the people of Weatherford, Texas, this isn’t the only group he represents. Not only is he a prominent member of the fossil fuel-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), headquartered outside of D.C. in Arlington, VA, Rep. King was recently appointed the National Chair of this shadowy organization.

His senior position with and involvement in ALEC makes me question: when he dismisses and denies the benefits of the CPP, is Rep. King really looking out for his district and the state of Texas?

Rep. King gets his facts wrong

In a recent hearing in the Texas legislature, Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) proposed a reasonable bill that would encourage Texas to create its own compliance plan for the CPP. Needless to say it did not pass, but the hearing elicited some interesting – and factually incorrect – rhetoric from Rep. King:

We talk in all these macro terms, of how [the Clean Power Plan is] going to affect the country and the state and the world, but what do you tell the [little] guy and the family? “I know it’s going to cost you $200 more a month at your house or $100 more a month at your house or whatever […] because the government decided to do this.” And there’s nothing they’re getting for it.

It’s not surprising to hear opponents of the CPP, including Rep. King, abuse the threat of higher electricity rates as a scare tactic. This fearmongering has been used time and again when new environmental regulations are introduced, and yet electric rates have remained steady over the past 20 years. Moreover, EPA’s modeling shows the average monthly electric bill in 2030 will be $8 lower with the CPP than without it. This is because the plan encourages energy efficiency, which saves companies and people money, and shifts electric generation from coal to cleaner, cheaper resources like natural gas. And that’s not even touching on associated expenses, such as the saved health costs related to cleaner air.

Rep. King’s conclusion is also completely off-base. Texans – and citizens across the country – will receive numerous benefits from the CPP including saving millions of gallons of water by accelerating the transition away from water-intensive fuel sources, creating more jobs in the booming clean energy sector, and protecting the health of all.

Good for Texans or ALEC?

But perhaps the most egregious of Rep. King’s offenses is the way he pretends to look out for the little guy, when he is clearly promoting ALEC’s agenda. This is who funds ALEC – not too many little guys among these giant polluters. Citizens have much to gain from the CPP, while business-backed interests with deep ties to the fossil fuel and coal industries have much to lose.

ALEC, which is a creature of special interests like those of the Koch brothers, has become well-known for its anti-CPP and anti-clean energy legislation. There is even an entire website dedicated to documenting how ALEC events promote a climate denial agenda.

And although Rep. King is newly elected as the Chair for this out-of-state organization, he has been involved in ALEC for many years. He has also been significantly funded by ALEC – he received $163,000 in campaign contributions from ALEC corporate members between 2004-2011.

So when Rep. King speaks about the CPP, it would be best to keep in mind those that stand to lose money with its implementation. He’s a representative, alright, but not for Texans.

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One Comment

  1. Tracy A. Smith
    Posted June 18, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    RIGHT ON Mr. Martson! I live in his District and I want to know how we can get the Press locally to see this and get this guy out of office.