1 year ago

Merrill questions legal status, funding of environmentalists ‘threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama businesses’

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill is continuing to be outspoken against what he sees as environmental activists promoting their “political agenda by threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama businesses” during the ongoing pandemic.

Earlier this week, Merrill penned an op-ed lamenting that California-based Sierra Club, along with the Birmingham-based liberal environmental group GASP, filed a lawsuit against the State over air and water permits for Plant Barry, an Alabama Power Company electric generating plant north of Mobile.

“Today, Plant Barry is complying with all air and water rules set forth by state regulators. Despite this, the Sierra Club and GASP are still fighting to see that south Alabama lose its largest source of electricity and the more than the 300 jobs provided by Plant Barry,” Merrill wrote.

However, his advocacy for Alabama families and jobs did not stop there. Merrill on Thursday sent four letters following up on the issue, and those letters have been obtained by Yellowhammer News.

Merrill wrote to both the Sierra Club and GASP, as well as environmentalist Daniel Tait and a representative of the so-called Energy and Policy Institute.

Tait is listed as “a Research and Communication Manager” for the Energy and Policy Institute on the shadowy organization’s website. That website refers to him as the former CEO of Energy Alabama.

In his letter to Tait, Merrill advised that he could not find the Energy and Policy Institute being an incorporated entity with the State of Alabama, nor any other state or the federal government.

The secretary of state further referenced Tait recently representing Energy Alabama in proceedings before the Alabama Public Service Commission when a coalition of environmental groups advocated against Alabama Power’s usage of natural gas to provide reliable and affordable energy for Alabamians.

Merrill wrote, “[O]fficial records submitted to the IRS by Energy Alabama (under the name Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy) show you having received no compensation from the group since 2016.”

An independent review of Alabama business filing records by Yellowhammer News turned up no results for the “Energy and Policy Institute” nor “Energy Alabama,” however “Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy” is indeed incorporated and actively registered. Tait is listed as one of three incorporators, as well as one of three directors.

“In recent weeks, you personally have taken an active role in attempting to shape the policies of both state regulatory bodies such as the Public Service Commission and of utilities during the COVID-19 crisis,” Merrill wrote to Tait. “Assuming you will continue such advocacy, I hope that you will clarify three critical matters so that elected officials and the Alabama public can understand the source and the nature of your work.”

Merrill asked Tait the following:

“During my tenure as Secretary of State, I have labored to create as much transparency as possible in state government,” Merrill added to Tait. “When we engage in debate about the future of our state, especially about the energy that today powers economic development and that tomorrow will fuel economic recovery from this current crisis, we should do so in good faith and with the greatest possible transparency about what is driving our advocacy.”

He concluded in that letter, “I hope you will provide answers to these questions as quickly as possible so that we all understand the origins and motivations of your work.”

In his letter to the Energy and Policy Institute, Merrill additionally underscored the irony of an alleged “watchdog” group being funded by unknown sources of money.

The questions regarding funding and pay raised by Merrill are reminiscent of when environmental groups last decade fought to kill Alabama’s coal industry, advocating against the usage of coal-based power generation. It was later revealed that a California-based group had funneled over $3 million to Alabama environmental groups to aid this effort. GASP was one such entity receiving funding.

Now, after dealing an irreversible blow to the thermal coal industry in the Yellowhammer State, many of these same — and some new — environmental groups are attacking the usage of natural gas in electricity generation, which Merrill pointed out in his letters.

Plant Barry currently operates a total of six generating units: four natural gas and two coal. Alabama Power wants to add a gas-burning unit, which is part of the proposal Merrill referenced that is being opposed by environmental groups before the Public Service Commission. This proposed unit would be Barry 8, a new generation unit that would be one of the cleanest, most efficient natural gas units in the country.

However, as Merrill also pointed out, these groups have recently gone even farther than opposing the proposed expansion, attacking the existing Plant Barry units and jeopardizing a major part of the state’s power grid.

Writing to the Sierra Club, Merrill began, “During these times of unrest and uncertainty, Alabamians understand the importance of protecting jobs firsthand and maintaining the resources that fuel our economy.”

“That is why it was disheartening to hear the news that Sierra Club had taken advantage of a global pandemic to promote its political agenda by threatening the economic livelihood of Alabama businesses,” he continued.

The secretary of state’s respective letters to the Sierra Club and GASP were similar in nature.

To both GASP and the Sierra Club, Merrill added, “Alabama has a long history of supporting its industries and the jobs they create, especially in times when they are critically needed. In short, your group’s targeting of our state’s infrastructure and the jobs of essential employees is both troubling and inconsistent with Alabama thinking and its values.”

“This is a time to work together to address issues and solve problems, not to promote political agendas,” Merrill concluded to GASP. “In the days ahead, I encourage your group to work cooperatively with industries that are critical to our economy instead of targeting them with unnecessary lawsuits.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

Huntsville City Schools will go on with its vaccination clinic for minors without parental consent

Americans have been bombarded with requests, pleas, shaming and excoriations about how you must get vaccinated.

I bought in, and I think I may have even jumped the line accidentally. I also have a three-year-old, and I don’t envision a scenario where I rush him out to get a vaccine. If he were 14, 18 or 24, I wouldn’t pressure him to get vaccinated. If he were over 18, what could I do?

But if he were 14? That’s a no from me.

Schools in Alabama disagree, and at least one school system doesn’t care what you think.

Madison, Birmingham and Huntsville schools have all taken up the task of vaccinating your kids even though doctors, pharmacies and Wal-Mart have vaccines readily available.


In the coverage of the Huntsville vaccinations, the Alabama Media Group article specifically states that Huntsville City Schools will not require parental consent for those over 14.

Students under 14 must have a parent or guardian accompany them for the vaccine, according to the announcement on the Huntsville schools website. Everyone receiving the vaccine must present a legal form of identification including a driver’s license, passport, non-drivers ID, or a birth certificate. Participants must sign a consent form prior to receiving the vaccine and must register online in advance to receive the vaccine.

To put it simply — your 14-year-old can decide to take an experimental vaccine without your knowledge.

This is a betrayal of parents by Alabama schools.

They don’t care.

Keep in mind that this is happening as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking at the impact of the vaccine on young people.

Even the World Health Organization thinks this is a bad idea.

Some Alabama lawmakers are taking note.

State Senator Sam Givhan appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and suggested the school systems should hit pause.

Explaining that just vaccinating everyone who shows up without parental consent is just a bad practice, Givhan said, “They don’t have everyone’s full medical history, and they don’t know the unique situations from certain kids. … And I just don’t think the high school should be giving these shots when, you know, you could actually cause someone to have medical problems from this, and then they’ll hide behind their state immunity shield and say you can’t sue them.”

Obviously, it is entirely possible that no children have been vaccinated without parental consent, but how would we know?

Huntsville City Schools seems hell-bent on continuing this. Attempts to speak to the school board we unsuccessful.

The board said in a statement, “We appreciate the invitation. Please see the information below surrounding the vaccine clinic. We have nothing more to add at this time.”

The gist is this: “Sorry, not sorry. We will vaccinate your kids without your permission. What are you going to do about it?”

The answer is people with means are going to either change these schools or flee American schools more than they already have.


Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

9 hours ago

Guest opinion: ‘For the People Act’ was always a bad idea

For months, we have been inundated with stories of a federal proposal named by the Democrat Party as the “For the People Act.” Upon closer examination of this mammoth piece of legislation, it should be renamed the “From the People Act” because this legislation clearly seeks to take the election process out of the hands of the American people. As a former probate judge, I see this for what it is – a federal attempt to take over our elections in violation of the United States Constitution.

The number of things wrong with this “Act” could fill a novel, but the most troubling aspects of this historical attempt to alter our elections and change the fabric of our nation include:


Automatic voter registration — The bill mandates that individuals who have interaction with certain government offices would be automatically registered to vote, but there is no mandate in the bill to only limit that registration to American citizens with the right to vote. Therefore, an individual who goes to the DMV for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote, even if a felony has eliminated their right to vote or if they are not a citizen of the United States. The same holds true for those interacting with other government offices for assistance with a variety of services. Democrats argue that is not the intent of the provision but still refuse to establish any voter eligibility verification requirements in their proposal.

Funding of political campaigns — This act would divert money collected from fines of corporations from the nation’s general budget to a fund that would be specifically earmarked for the funding of political campaigns. This newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund” will serve as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs of political candidates. The idea that this bill increases funding for political campaigns from our government’s coffers is sickening. Our government has a gargantuan debt but this bill seeks to collect fines and, rather, than devote them to paying down that debt, diverts them to the accounts of political candidates. Absolutely mindboggling.

The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it will rear its ugly head again. “We the People” must remain aware of attempts, such as these, to undermine our Democracy and we must oppose such measures at every turn.

Wes Allen currently represents Pike and Dale Counties in the State House of Representatives.

12 hours ago

Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions has added Joia M. Johnson to its board of directors, according to a release from the company.

Johnson will serve on the boards of Regions Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Regions Bank, beginning on July 20.

She arrives at her new responsibilities having recently retired as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Hanesbrands Inc., a leading apparel manufacturer and marketer.

Charles McCrary, chairman of the Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank Boards, believes Johnson’s experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

“Joia’s leadership experience, both at the corporate level and in various board roles, will add greater depth and insights to the Regions Board of Directors as we advance policies and strategies to benefit our customers, associates, communities, and shareholders,” McCrary explained.


Johnson added that she sees that experience as an asset in assisting the company achieve its vision for growth.

“I believe the breadth of my corporate experience and civic engagement will complement the additional experience and skills reflected throughout Regions’ current directors,” she stated. “As the company focuses not just on continuous improvement but also on long-term, sustainable growth, I am thrilled to become a part of building on Regions’ history of success – while also defining a very bright future for the organization and the people and communities we serve.”

McCrary also noted the alignment between Johnson’s unique skill set and the company’s mission.

“The Regions mission is to make life better for the people we serve, and we accomplish that mission by creating shared value for all of our stakeholders,” he remarked. “With her passion for strong governance and strategic community engagement, Joia will help us build on our progress and reach new heights in the years to come.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Johnson earned a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Johnson’s financial services experience includes on the board of Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 500 payments technology company and eight years as a board member for Crawford & Company, which specializes in insurance claims administration.

Upon her installment, Johnson will serve on Regions’ 13-member board which will consist of 12 independent outside directors.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

13 hours ago

State Rep. Oliver: Combatting Critical Race Theory in Alabama is ‘the way we stand up to woke-ism’

Republicans have made taking on so-called Critical Race Theory a priority in recent weeks claiming such philosophies are an effort to undermine cultural norms and indoctrinate in a way that benefits the Democratic Party.

Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the theory from their public school classrooms. Many would like to see Alabama follow suit, and there have been bills filed for the legislature’s 2022 regular session to do as much. One of those bills is being brought by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), who takes it beyond the classroom and applies restrictions throughout state government.

Oliver discussed the bill during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5.


“[I]’ve got a bill that’s fairly unique, and we expect it to go through the state government committee,” he said. “My bill actually covers any state agency, its contractors and subcontractors, to include schools. We felt like it was important to address this issue with a holistic approach.”

“The first thing is deciding what you don’t want taught,” Oliver continued. “That’s the most important piece. And I would like to say, this bill, it absolutely describes what we don’t want taught — it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach inclusion or diversity. It means you can’t teach some things as fact and then we’re not going to teach our kids that one sex or race is better than another. And in a nutshell, that is the crux of it.”

The Tallapoosa County lawmaker said his effort could serve as a bulwark against a creeping effort to indoctrinate.

“[I]t’s the way we stand up to woke-ism,” Oliver declared. “If we’re ever going to draw a line in the sand, Critical Race Theory is it. I say that not because I’m the smartest guy in the world or this is something I’ve thought all my life, but I’ve got a child that goes to a major university in the state. And I am absolutely appalled by what I’ve witnessed there the last three years with my child. If you don’t think universities are indoctrinating your kids, everybody needs to wake up.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

14 hours ago

Manufacture Alabama backs Ainsworth for reelection

As Alabama maintains its status among the top states in the nation for manufacturing, the industry’s dedicated trade association has made its choice for lieutenant governor.

Manufacture Alabama has given its full support to Will Ainsworth in his bid for reelection to the office, according to a release from the group.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, cited Ainsworth’s background in manufacturing and knowledge of its key issues in announcing the endorsement.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth for reelection due to his commitment to maintaining a business-friendly environment in Alabama,” Clark said. “Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth grew up in the manufacturing industry and understands firsthand that our members are the backbone of the state and nation’s economy. He is a friend to our association and a tireless advocate for manufacturers across Alabama. In his leadership role, it is clear that he is dedicated to serving his home state with enthusiasm and integrity. We are proud to give him our full endorsement for the reelection of Lieutenant Governor.”


Ainsworth, who has now picked up a string of endorsements from trade associations, believes the state’s successes in manufacturing are something that can continue.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Manufacture Alabama,” he stated. “Our tremendous manufacturers are sources of good-paying 21st century jobs for hardworking Alabamians, and the goods and materials they produce are integral across a broad range of sectors. Alabama is open for business, and I’m firmly committed to making our state the workforce engine of the Southeast so we can continue to grow jobs through expansion and recruitment. Working together, I am confident we will build an even stronger Alabama for our children and our children’s children.”

The manufacturing industry employs more than 250,000 people in Alabama, a figure which makes up a double-digit percentage of the state’s workforce.

Ainsworth announced his reelection campaign earlier this month.

Since that time, he has received the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: Huntsville preferred location for Space Command ‘based on merit and based on policies’

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia