Grant Kidwell

Grant Kidwell

Credentials

  • M.A., Economics, George Mason University (2014). [1]
  • B.S., Political Science, James Madison University (2011). [1]

Background

Grant Kidwell is the director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Task Force on Energy, Environment, and Agriculture. [2]

Kidwell came to ALEC after working at the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity where he “worked on the organization’s state energy portfolio.” According to his ALEC profile, Kidwell “believes that energy policy is done best when there is competition and government refrains from picking favorites.” [2]

While earning his Master’s in Economics from George Mason University, Kidwell’s LinkedIn profile suggests he simultaneously worked as a policy analyst at the Charles Koch Institute.  [1]

Koch Ties

Kidwell served as a senior policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity from 2015 to 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. [1]

Before AFP, Kidwell participated in the Koch Associate Program where he gained experience as a policy analyst for the Charles Koch Institute. For much of that time, Kidwell was also attaining his M.A. in Economics from George Mason University (GMU). [1]

GMU and its related entities have received more funding from Koch-connected charitable foundations than any other organization. Documents uncovered in April 2018 revealed the Charles Koch Foundation may have also had a say in hiring decisions at the university in exchange for donations, The Associated Press reported. [3]

ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force

According to ALEC, its Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force “operates under the principles of free-market environmentalism.” This task force has regularly brought forward model bills and resolutions that heavily favor the oil and gas industry. Notably, it brought forward the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, a model bill that critics have said is designed to enable the criminalization of public protest against pipelines. [4]

Below are some sample bills the task force has brought forward since Kidwell began leading it in December 2017 (full list here): [5]

Title Summary Type Finalized
Resolution Supporting States Establish Transparency with the Cost of Legislation Affecting Regulated Utilities Be Shown as Line Items on Consumer Bills Reveals “any legislated action targeting utilities” that could increase energy prices Model Resolution 18-Sep-18
Resolution Concerning the EPA‘s New Source Review Regulation Suggests relaxing NSR (new source review) permitting, because it could result in “the installation of expensive emissions controls” Model Resolution 18-Sep-18
Resolution in Support of the Reconsideration of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards Supports cuts to CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, and opposes California’s ability to have its own, stricter regulations Model Resolution 18-Sep-18
Gas Tax Transparency Act   Model Policy 24-May-18
Resolution Supporting States Ability to Permit and Regulate Oil and Gas Development on Federal Lands within Their Borders Give states power to open up oil and gas drilling on federal lands Model Policy 24-May-18
Critical Infrastructure Protection Act Could enable criminal penalties against those protesting pipeline projects Model Policy 20-Jan-18
Act to Establish Statewide Uniformity for Auxiliary Container Regulations Stops local governments from taxing or regulating plastic bags and other containers of a variety of materials Model Policy 20-Jan-18
Resolution Urging the President and Congress to Abide by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to Establish a Permanent Geologic Repository for Used Nuclear Fuel and Defense-Related High-Level Radioactive Waste Speed up Yucca Mountain license approval Model Policy 12-Jan-17
Resolution Concerning the Stream Protection Rule Urges the Department of Interior (DOI) to withdraw the Stream Protection Rule Model Resolution 12-Sep-16

Stance on Climate Change

Kidwell, while working in his position with ALEC and with other Koch groups, has consistently opposed regulations that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the potential of combatting human-caused climate change. He does not appear to have made any outright statements on his views on climate. Kidwell has promoted ALEC‘s model resolution that opposes a carbon tax in all forms.

Key Quotes

July 23, 2018

Writing on Twitter, Kidwell opposed a carbon tax:

“Carbon taxes will harm the economy and hurt working families trying to pay utility bills and commute,” Kidwell tweeted.

July 10, 2018

“Governor Sununu’s decision to veto the net metering expansion bill is a step in the right direction, but New Hampshire should switch to paying net metering customers to wholesale rate,” Kidwell and ALEC intern Kevin Kim wrote. They also promoted a study by E&E Legal’s Tom Tanton that suggested net metering reform that would have made it more expensive for people to use rooftop solar. [6]

April 10, 2018

In an article praising the Trump Administration’s cutbacks to fuel economy standards, Kidwell wrote: [7]

“Americans have demonstrated their preferences for driving larger vehicles that keep them safe, comfortable, and that can carry the whole family plus the dog when needed. The Trump administration’s wise decision to revise the Obama administration’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards better reflects the preferences of drivers and will make purchasing new cars and trucks affordable.”

July 17, 2017

“[T]there can be little doubt that federal government energy subsidies stifle competition and tip the scales in favor of renewable energy sources,” Kidwell wrote at the Morning Consult. [8]

“In a misguided effort to level the playing field, the owners of coal and nuclear power plants have recently tried to jump on the subsidy gravy train, lobbying state governments for their own handouts.”

[…]

“Government shouldn’t play favorites in the energy industry. The best way forward would be to end all energy subsidies and let different sources of energy truly compete on price, reliability, and impact.”

Key Deeds

November 28, 2018

Kidwell was the featured speaker at a scheduled workshop during ALEC’s 2018 “State & Nation Policy Summit,” held at the Grand Hyatt in Washington D.C. from November 28–30. Topics of discussion included carbon dioxide pipeline corridors, right to farm legislation, and a resolution “to oppose federal intervention in competitive electricity markets.” [23]

The summit took place just as a report by the Climate Investigations Center revealed that ALEC has lost the financial support of dozens of S&P 500 companies since 2011. The CIC estimated the combined market value of companies that have disassociated themselves from ALEC to be more than $7 trillion. [24]

Corporations such as Google, Amazon, WalMart, and Exxon discontinued their support of ALEC presumably in response to unfavorable publicity generated by the think tank’s policy positions on everything from gun violence to climate change science denial. [24]

October 4, 2018

Kidwell celebrated President Trump’s stalling of fuel economy standards under the “Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles” rule. [9]

“The Trump administration won’t reduce fuel economy but will simply keep it from rising to an extreme level,” Kidwell wrote.  [9]

He also noted that ALEC had adopted a recent resolution that supported the Trump Administration’s more lax fuel economy standards while opposing California’s power to grant its own emission levels.  [9]

That ALEC “model” resolution was finalized in September 2018 and assigned to ALEC‘s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force. [10]

August 7, 2018

Grant Kidwell attended a session at the Heartland Institute‘s “America First Energy Conference” (AFEC 2018) in New Orleans, Louisiana. [11]

The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s ‘war on fossil fuels’ and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads[12]

He moderated a panel titled “Carbon Taxes, Cap & Trade, and Other Bad Ideas.” [13]

June 15, 2018

Todd Wynn, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior and former head of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had scheduled a call with Grant Kidwell on December 19. This was according to a copy of Wynn’s calendar, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. A spokeswoman for ALEC denied the meeting ever occurred, HuffPost reported. [14]

January 2018

The Iowa Senate advanced a bill, Senate Study Bill 3062, which critics said could lead to the criminalization of pipeline protests. The bill carried criminal punishment of up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. DeSmog reported that S.B. 3062 resembles a “model” bill put forward by ALEC titled the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. That ALEC bill was based on Oklahoma’s HB 1123, which calls for citizens to receive a felony sentencing, $100,000 fine, and/or 10 years in prison if their actions “willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, or tamper with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility.” [15]

Kidwell, whose Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force was behind the model bill, told DeSmog he expected the bill to be introduced in other states in the near future.  He also pointed out that it is not only an ALEC model bill, but also one passed at the corporate-funded Council of State Governments (CSG). [15]

“States are recognizing the importance of critical infrastructure and the threats to it,” Kidwell told DeSmog. “Oklahoma enacted legislation in 2017 protecting critical infrastructure before ALEC began its consideration of model policy on the issue. Iowa is currently considering legislation to protect critical infrastructure and likely many more states will as well.”

August 15, 2017

Vincent DeVito, then Counselor to the Secretary for Energy Policy in the Department of Interior in the Trump administration, was invited to an Americans for Prosperity event with former AFP Vice President for External Affairs Chrissy Harbin and Grant Gidwell. DeVito’s calendar and travel documents, released through an open records request and reviewed by DeSmog, showed a range of industry events DeVito attended in his first few months in office. [16]

Jason Funes, a special assistant at the Interior Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, who forwarded DeVito the invitation, told DeVito he was slated to speak on a panel with two other AFP executives. [16]

Funes, DeVito, and Kidwell would later all attend the Heartland Institute’s AFEC 2018 conference in New Orleans. [16]

December 2017

As DeSmog’s Steve Horn reported, Kidwell’s ALEC task force had put forward a model bill that would move for potential criminalization of those protesting U.S. oil and gas infrastructure. The model legislation built on two prior bills, House Bill 1123 and House Bill 2128, offered both criminal and civil penalties which would apply to protests happening at pipeline sites. [17], [18]

The Oklahoma American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized those prior bills, saying they had the potential to quash free speech and the right to assemble as protected by the First Amendment:

The First Amendment protects our right to stand in the Capitol rotunda,” Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the Oklahoma ACLUtold the Oklahoma Gazette in March. “It also protects the rights of Oklahomans and Americans to engage in speech and activity, knowing that if they engage in civil disobedience, that the penalties they face should not be disproportionate. If we chill and keep people home, away from the cameras and away from the public they are trying to wake up on any number of issues, we are doing a real disservice to our democracy.” [19]

Neither an ALEC spokesperson nor officials working inside the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force responded to requests for comment to clarify if the model bill had actually passed through the task force. [17]

May 12, 2017

Kidwell wrote an article at The Hill describing the Antiquities Act as having been “hijacked” in order to protect areas like the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Kidwell notes in the article that congressman Rob Bishop of Utah has been holding hearings on how to reduce the protected area and reform the Antiquities Act. [20]

“Trump’s executive action to revisit the previous designations will be important in correcting past abuses, but executive action is not enough — indeed, an excess of executive authority is at the heart of the problem with the Antiquities Act,” Kidwell wrote.

“Work by the House Natural Resources Committee under Chairman Bishop leadership’s will help ensure that similar abuses don’t happen in the future.”

October 6, 2016

Kidwell wrote an article at The Hill critical of Iowa wind farms. “On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent carbon regulations—if eventually upheld by the Supreme Court—will shutter many traditional power plants, leaving wind farms to take their place,” Kidwell wrote. “In other words, government policy is doing everything in its power to set the stage for wind.” [21]

“Public officials must stop gearing energy policy around the promise of guaranteed profits for well-connected energy investors like Warren Buffett. This hits average Americans once in their taxes and twice in higher electricity bills, which raises the prices on goods and services as well as utilities. If wind farms like the one Iowa will soon get are worthy investments, it should because of the power they generate—not the tax benefits,” Kidwell concluded. [21]

August 23, 2016

After the EPA released an endangerment finding for carbon emissions from aircraft, Kidwell argued that “Consumers should be worried about harmful effects of overregulation on the airline industry.” Writing on The Blaze, Kidwell added: [22]

“The EPA’s regulation would have little to no impact on global temperatures since US aircraft only contribute to a small amount of US carbon emissions and a miniscule amount of global emissions. The EPA’s aircraft regulation simply means Americans will pay more the next time they fly.” [22]

Affiliations

Social Media

Publications

“My writings have appeared in the Hill, Washington Examiner, Morning Consult, The Blaze, and Townhall,” Kidwell’s LinkedIn notes. [1]

Resources

  1. Grant Kidwell,” LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  2. Grant Kidwell,” ALEC. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/8Y4zu

  3. Documents show ties between university, conservative donors,” Associated Press, February 13, 2018. Archived April 30, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/2u0g0

  4. Oklahoma Bill To Protect ‘Critical Infrastructure’ Could Curb Public Protest, Critics Say,” StateImpact Oklahoma, March 2, 2017. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/AVSuP

  5. ARCHIVES: ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE / MODEL POLICIES,” ALEC. Accessed October 24, 2018.

  6. Grant Kidwell and Kevin Kim. “New Hampshire Governor’s Veto Helps Majority of Ratepayers,” ALEC, July 10, 2018. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/TnDHI

  7. Grant Kidwell. “Trump Administration Revises Fuel Economy Standards Impacting the Next Car You Buy,” ALEC, April 10, 2018. Archived October 25, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/kEJIC

  8. Grant Kidwell. “DOE Study Seeks Answers to Important Energy Questions,” Morning Consult, July 17, 2017. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/uf7tV

  9. Grant Kidwell. “Affordable and Efficient Cars, Not Federal Mandates,” ALEC, October 4, 2018.  Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/dGWI4

  10. RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE EPA’S NEW SOURCE REVIEW REGULATION,” ALEC. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/EFFdt

  11. Speakers,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/mwtga

  12. About,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived July 23, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/E4Gnt

  13. GRANT KIDWELL,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive URLhttps://archive.fo/6IF6I

  14. Yet Another Top Interior Department Official Seems To Have An Ethics Problem,” HuffPost, June 15, 2018. Archived June 22, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.li/XPaLo

  15. Steve Horn. “As Trump Unfurls Infrastructure Plan, Iowa Bill Seeks to Criminalize Pipeline Protests,” DeSmog, January 31, 2018.

  16. Itai Vardi. “Koch-Backed and Anti-Renewable Energy Groups Wooing Interior Department Official,” DeSmog, May 23, 2018.

  17. Steve Horn. “ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters,” DeSmog, December 11, 2017.

  18. CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION ACT,ALEC. Finalized January 20, 2018. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qEMO5

  19. Laura Eastes. “Anti-protest bills could curb freedom of speech or provide protection in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Gazette, March 15, 2017. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/jdFWB

  20. The Antiquities Act has been hijacked — reform it now to prevent a national monument spree,” The Hill, May 12, 2017, Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/VQh62

  21. Grant Kidwell. “Iowa wind farm generates more tax credits than electricity,” The Hill, October 6, 2016. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/MVjlS

  22. Grant Kidwell. “Obama Administration to Regulate Aircraft Emissions, Raise Airfare,” The Blaze, August 23, 2016. Archived October 24, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/n8Ddo

  23. Energy, Environment and Agriculture Subcommittees – 2018 States & Nation Policy Summit,” ALEC.org. Archived November 28, 2018. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/2lWPv

  24. Kert Davies. “ALEC Lost Membership Worth Over $7 Trillion in Market Cap,” Climate Investigations Center. November 28, 2018. Archived November 29, 2018. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/9ojoO

      

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