Following Google's Lead, Facebook Plans to Cut Ties to ALEC

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:36:00 GMT

Bill Weihl
Facebook green czar Bill Weihl discusses his company at a Greenpeace event
A day after Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced his company had dropped the “liars” at the American Legislative Exchange Council, it appears social media juggernaut Facebook is next. The San Francisco Chronicle received an email from an unnamed representative announcing Facebook’s unhappiness with ALEC on “some key issues.”
We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now. While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.

The representative seems to have been referring a key incident at ALEC’s annual meeting in Dallas this July. Michael Terrell, Google’s senior policy counsel for energy and sustainability, made a presentation on behalf of then-members Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and eBay promoting clean energy development. The tech companies are major electricity consumers, because of their need for massive data farms, and have worked to power their installations with renewable energy. Chris Taylor, a state lawmaker attending the presentation, wrote that the lobbyists for Peabody Energy, Edison Electric, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in attendance were unswayed.

Google and Facebook are both participants in Greenpeace’s Cool IT effort to decarbonize the data farms. When I pressed the companies’ green energy executives at a Greenpeace event in November of last year as the manager of the #DontFundEvil campaign why they had ALEC membership, they were unable to provide an answer.

The experience of the tech giants is a replay of what happened when renewable trade associations were part of the fossil-driven lobby group in 2012. The American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association were outvoted in a series of decisions that led to ALEC pushing anti-renewable legislation. Chastened by the result, AWEA and SEIA left ALEC when their one-year membership came up for renewal.

It seems that none of these companies bothered to look who is on ALEC’s corporate board — lobbyists for fossil-fuel companies Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Peabody Energy, and Future Energy Holdings. One would think they could have Googled it.