The tech exodus from the American Legislative Exchange Council continues, with German software giant SAP ending its membership in the anti-climate lobbying group. The blow is especially harsh as ALEC’s corporate board was chaired by SAP lobbyist Steve Seale. SAP’s departure comes in the wake of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech companies leaving in quick succession this fall.
German business journal Manager Magazin reported the departure on Wednesday. “We have decided that we will leave the organization today,” an SAP spokeswoman told the magazine.
The spokeswoman told Manager that the company abandoned ALEC because of its “merkwürdigen” (strange) positions—such as its support for Stand Your Ground laws, climate denial, and opposition to solar energy deployment. Germany’s state-supported solar-power revolution (part of its “Energiewende” transition) is in stark contrast to the United States, in no small part because of the work ALEC has done for decades to oppose renewable energy.
SAP, which touts its sustainability leadership, is a major producer of smart-grid and energy-efficiency solutions. Unlike ALEC, SAP is unambiguous about the threat of fossil-fueled climate change, saying that “with the dangers and costs of global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels, and it’s clear that increased energy efficiency is an absolute must.”
At the UN Climate Summit in New York City this September, SAP signed on to the World Bank effort calling for a global price on carbon pollution.
SAP lobbyist Steve Seale, former ALEC corporate board chair
SAP’s union representatives in Germany were quick to decry the corporation’s involvement in ALEC. “SAP has no place in a political organization that represents the positions of the Tea Party,” a representative told Sorge. His article also noted Google chair Eric Schmidt’s excoriation of ALEC as a group of “liars.”
“SAP America’s strong commitment to the American Legislative Exchange Council is due to the nonprofit’s significant impact and the opportunities it creates for the exchange of ideas,” Seale said upon his appointment to the ALEC board a year ago.
As of publication, Seale is still listed as the chair of the ALEC corporate board on the group’s website.
[UPDATE] “SAP has decided to immediately disassociate itself from ALEC,” a company representative said in a statement given to the Center for Media and Democracy. “The membership had been under review for some time and is now being canceled.”
When asked if the decision was because of ALEC’s climate denial, the representative replied, “Not only [that] position, on gun control and voter rights as well.”
“In the wake of the elections where a clear mandate for limited-government, state-based policies was offered by the American people,” an ALEC spokesperson told National Journal, “it is too bad that companies like SAP are making short-sighted decisions based on misinformation.”
Facebook green czar Bill Weihl discusses his company at a Greenpeace event
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.
On Monday, Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced that his company has ended its support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of its persistent climate-change denial. The decision came after a Schmidt made the announcement in response to a listener question on the Diane Rehm radio show.
“I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake,” Schmidt said of Google’s support for ALEC, “and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.”
Pressed to explain further, Schmidt harshly described the conservative lobbying organization’s opposition to climate action as “really hurting our children” and “making the world a much worse place” by “literally lying.”
Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.Listen here:
ALEC president Lisa B. Nelson issued an angry press release following Schmidt’s announcement, blaming the decision on “public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”
Disclosure: As the campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, I founded the “Don’t Fund Evil” campaign in June 2013 challenging Google to stop funding climate-denial groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ALEC, and climate-denial politicians such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
For over a year, Google representatives stonewalled over the company’s conflicting stand on climate change and its political support for climate deniers. Google’s clean-energy lead Gray Demasi had no answer for why his company supported ALEC, when I asked him at a November 2013 Greenpeace green tech event.Now, Schmidt’s words echo an opinion piece I wrote in December 2013 on the eve of ALEC’s annual DC conference, which featured a keynote by Cruz:
Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees support scientific facts. Unlike ALEC and Cruz, Google employees are investing in a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
The “Don’t Fund Evil” call to drop ALEC was joined in December 2013 by the Sierra Club, SumOfUs, RootsAction and the Center for Media and Democracy. The coalition of climate, corporate, and good-government organizations mobilized over 230,000 citizens to petition the search giant. In addition, Google was the target of a shareholder resolution brought by Walden Asset Management challenging Google’s support for the anti-climate group.
Added pressure came in August when Google competitor Microsoft left ALEC. At the beginning of September, over 50 organizations, including several labor unions, environmental organizations, racial justice groups, and other progressive organizations signed on to a public letter asking Google to follow suit.
Google’s decision to drop ALEC is an important first step in restoring the integrity of its ‘don’t be evil’ motto. Unfortunately, the company is still financing extremist groups like the ‘CO2 Is Life’ Competitive Enterprise Institute and dozens of denier politicians. If Eric Schmidt wants to be taken seriously, he has to do a lot more cleaning up. It’s time for Susan Molinari, who pushed Google into this situation, to go.
Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs have since expanded the Don’t Fund Evil campaign into the Disrupt Denial campaign, which calls on all corporations to stop financing climate-denial politicians.
Transcript of the Diane Rehm Show:
Diane Rehm: Ok, and I think we have time for one last caller. Let’s go to Kristin in Syracuse, NY. Quick question, Kristin.Transcript of ALEC press release:
Kristin: Hi, yes, thank you so much for taking my call, Diane.
K: Um, I’m curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC which is that fund, they’re, um, lobbyists in DC that are funding climate change deniers.
Eric Schmidt: Um, we funded them as part of a political campaign of something unrelated. I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.
D: And how did you get involved with them in the first place and were you, then, disappointed in what you saw?
E: Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.
“It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.
“At our recent Annual Meeting in Dallas, we were pleased to host a roundtable conversation between a variety of companies—including Google—regarding renewable energy deployment and climate change. The conversations held in Dallas were intended to build understanding and pioneer future policy approaches where organizations could find common ground on issues of climate change, energy generation and government mandates. And, I personally intend to continue this work.
“In the case of energy generation, ALEC believes renewable energy should expand based on consumer demand, not as a result of a government mandate. Many misunderstand the American Legislative Exchange Council and its legislator-led, free market priorities. ALEC members believe the Federal Government exerts too much control on state and local decision-making. Google’s renewable energy commitment—as well as those found throughout private industry—is completely consistent with ALEC policy because the companies in question chose renewables absent a mandate.
“ALEC believes in freedom of speech and opinion. Google is an important voice on these and many other issues, and we will miss their perspective in our discussions. However, ALEC and its members will continue to advance limited government, free markets and federalism through dialogue, debate and model policy formulation.”
Computing giant Microsoft has left the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative lobbying group that promotes climate change denial and opposes renewable energy, a coalition of climate-activist investors announced today. The Sustainability Group and Walden Asset Management released a press release announcing that Microsoft left ALEC in July 2014:
Last year, The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with the controversial model legislation group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Microsoft is a leader on carbon issues – in 2012, it committed to becoming carbon neutral, and is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Thus, we believe that its affiliation with ALEC, which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy, was incongruous. In addition, there were numerous other ALEC actions that conflicted directly with Microsoft’s values.
We are pleased to report Microsoft is no longer a member of ALEC and is not financially supporting the organization in any way.
In emails dated June 30 and July 14 2014, Microsoft confirmed this decision:
“As we discussed, in 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC. With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC.
“we are no longer members of ALEC and do not provide the organization with financial support of any kind.”
We commend Microsoft on its commitment to open dialogue with shareholders, and for making this important decision.
Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, Rob Bernard, defended his company’s membership in ALEC less than a year ago.
Technology companies that are members of ALEC include Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Uber, AT&T, eBay, and Lyft.
At the Grand Hyatt.
8:00am – 9:15am Plenary Breakfast with State Sen. Mark Green (R-Tenn.-22)
9:30am – 2:00pm ALEC Exhibition Hall Open
9:30am – 10:45am Workshops (Topics TBA)
11:00am – 12:15pm Workshops (Topics TBA)
12:30pm – 2:15pm Plenary Lunch with Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
2:30pm – 5:30pm Civil Justice Task Force Meeting
2:30pm Welcome and Introductions2:30pm – 5:30pm Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Meeting
2:45pm Task Force Update and Sunset Review Overview
2:55pm State Legal Reform Activity Update
3:05pm PRESENTATION: Insights and Experiences from the Phantom Damages Elimination Act
3:20pm Model Legislation: Update to the Non-Economic Damages Act
3:30pm PRESENTATION: Reforming Archaic Discovery Rules on the Federal Level
3:45pm Model Legislation: The Citizen Participation Act [Anti-SLAPP]
4:05pm PRESENTATION: Patent Trolling Litigation: What Can the States Do?
4:20pm PRESENTATION: Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Reform: Fighting Fraud and Preserving Resources
4:35pm Model Legislation: Punitive Damages Standards Act
4:55pm Model Legislation: Update to the Private Enforcement of Consumer Protection Statutes Act
5:10pm Roundtable Open Discussion: New Issues in Lawsuit Reform Around the Country
5:25pm For the Good of the Order
￼2:30 Call to Order, Welcome and Introductions by Task Force chairs, Rep. Dawn Pettengill, Iowa, and Mr. Emory Wilkerson, State Farm Insurance2:30pm – 5:30pm Communications and Technology Task Force Meeting with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
Approval of Minutes from 2013 Annual Meeting
Subcommittee Reports: Labor and Business Regulation; Transportation and Infrastructure; Surety Insurance; Financial Services
￼2:45 Model Policy Consideration: Public Employee Choice Act
3:05 Panel: Insuring the Future – Autonomous Vehicles and the Insurance Industry
4:05 Presentation: Common Sense in Regulating Cosmetic Services Treatments
4:35 Presentation: Minimum Wage Debate Across the States
5:15 Model Policy Consideration: Amendments to ALEC’s Resolution on Business and Franchise Agreement Legislation scheduled to sunset
2:30pm Welcome2:30pm – 5:30pm Education Task Force Meeting
Approval of the Minutes from the ALEC 40th Annual Meeting
Subcommittee Reports and Director’s Announcements
Keynote Presentation by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
Spotlight on the States Panel: “Promoting Broadband, Protecting Privacy, and Growing E-Commerce in the States”
Electronic Data Privacy Protection Act Statement of Principles for Cybersecurity Draft Resolution Affirming the Digital Right to Repair Consumer Protection Through Disclosure of Digital Rights Model Act21st Century Technology Issues Panel: “What State Policymakers Need to Know About Congress, Startups, Copyright, and Emerging Technologies” An Act Protecting Digital Equipment Owners and Small Businesses in Repairing Digital Electronic Equipment Model Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Law Statement of Principles for the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Resolution Supporting the Efforts of the Telehealth Working GroupNew Business
2:30pm – 5:30pm Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Meeting
2:30 Call to Order, Welcome, and Introductions3:00pm – 5:30pm Exhibitor Teardown
￼￼2:35 Presentation: EPA Approaches to Regulate Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Power Plants
￼￼2:50 Model Legislation: Resolution in Opposition to EPA’s Plan to Regulate Greenhouse Gases ￼￼under the Clean Air Act
￼3:10 Model Legislation: Resolution Concerning EPA Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards ￼for New and Existing Fossil-Fueled Power Plants
￼￼￼3:30 Presentation: Natural Gas as a Motor Fuel
￼3:45 Presentation: Alarmism and the Science of Chemical Risk
4:00 Model Legislation: Updating Net Metering Policies Resolution
4:20 New Member Introduction: America’s Natural Gas Alliance
4:35 Annual Model Bill Review
4:55 Presentation: EPA’s Adversarial Oversight of States’ Regulatory Regimes for “Fracking,” and What It Means for the Future
5:10 Discussion: Gauging Interest for Future Natural Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Pipeline Symposium
5:25 For the Good of the Order
5:30pm – 6:30pm Chairs Reception
7:00pm-11:00pm State Night (Contact Your State Chair)
State Sen. Mark Green (R-Tenn.-22), speaking today at the American Legislative Exchange Council States & Nation Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., rejects the science of global warming. In a September 15, 2013 tweet, Sen. Green said, “I think we need to be concerned about global cooling.”
Green’s tweet cites a Climate Depot link to a blogpost with the headline “Earth Gains A Record Amount Of Sea Ice In 2013.”
This factoid is an indicator of global warming, not global cooling. As the climate has become destabilized, the annual variation in global sea ice has increased, with greater swings in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Arctic sea ice is in a “death spiral”, as is global land ice. As Antarctica warms, its land ice mass is in decline, while its sea ice extent is on the increase as oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns change in the Southern hemisphere.
Climate Depot is the website of former Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) spokesman Marc Morano.
Green’s tweet continues with a link to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by climate-change denier Matt Ridley, which argues “the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.”
A 2011 ALEC conference presented a panel entitled “Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2.”
Green is also a military veteran, former field surgeon, and radical gun-rights advocate.
At the Grand Hyatt.
8:00am – 9:15am Plenary Breakfast with Gov. Matt Mead (R-Wyo.)
9:30am – 5:00pm ALEC Exhibition Hall Open
9:30am – 10:45am Workshops (Topics TBA)
11:00am – 12:15pm Workshops (Topics TBA)
12:30pm – 2:15pm Plenary Lunch with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
2:30pm – 5:30pm Justice Performance Project Task Force Meeting
2:30pm – 5:30pm Health and Human Services Task Force Meeting
2:30pm – 5:30pm Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Meeting
2:30 Call to Order, Welcome, and Introductions2:30pm – 5:30pm International Relations Task Force Meeting
2:35 Old Business – Approval of Annual Meeting Minutes
2:40 A Report from the Public Pension Reform Working Group
2:45 A Report from the Fiscal Policy Reform Working Group
2:50 Budgeting for Priorities in Indiana
3:05 Update from Washington
3:35 The Crossroads of Federal and State Budgets
3:45 The Possible Consequences of a State Fiscal Emergency
3:55 State Economic Principles
4:05 New Research on State Pension Funds
4:15 Appropriation by Litigation
4:25 2014 Legislative Session Preview
4:40 Update on Multi-State Tax Policy
4:50 Discriminatory Sales Taxes
5:00 Consideration of Proposed Model Legislation
Resolution to Reduce the State’s Dependence on Federal Funds Federal Funds Commission Act Statement of Principles on States’ Dependence on Federal Funds5:15 Model Legislation for Five Year Review Process Constitutional Amendment Restricting the Use of Vehicle Fees and Taxes for Highway Purposes Resolution to Oppose NCCUSL Effort to rewrite the Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Resolution to Permanently Repeal the Federal Unified Gift and Estate Tax ￼￼￼￼￼￼ Resolution Urging Congress to Reject “Windfall Profits” Taxes on Energy Companies Resolution Urging Congress to Update Tax Treatment of Cell Phones Statement of Principles for Model State Laws to Encourage Philanthropic Creation and Operation Statement of Principles on Philanthropic Freedom Resolution Urging Congress to Eliminate Discriminatory State and Local Taxes on Automobile Renters5:25 New Business
6:00pm – 7:30pm Jingle Bell Rock: The ALEC Holiday Party
At the Grand Hyatt.
7:00am – 9:00am Exhibitor Set Up
7:30am – 11:30am Subcommittee Meetings of the Communications and Technology Task Force
7:30am – 8:00am E-Commerce Subcommittee8:00am – 11:00am Subcommittee Meeting of the Education Task Force7:30am Welcome and Introductions8:05am – 8:35am Innovation Subcommittee
7:35am Presentation – “Bitcoin: Primer for Policymakers”
7:45am Policy Discussion: Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
8:00am Adjourn8:05am Welcome and Introductions8:40am – 9:25am Information Technology Subcommittee
8:10am Presentation – State University Public-Private Partnerships: how state universities help businesses deliver market-ready solutions
8:35am Adjourn8:40 am Welcome and Introductions9:30am – 10:10am Consumer Protection, Critical Infrastructure, and Security Technologies Subcommittee
8:45am Policy Discussion on Resolution to Support the Work of the Telehealth Working Group on Interstate Compact
8:55am Policy Discussion on Draft Resolution Affirming the Digital Right to Repair
9:05am Policy Discussion on An Act Protecting Digital Equipment Owners and Small Businesses in Repairing Digital Electronic Equipment
9:15am Policy Discussion on Consumer Protection Through Disclosure of Digital Rights Model Act9:30am Welcome and Introductions10:15am – 11:15am Broadband Subcommittee of the Communications and Technology Task Force
9:35am Presentation — Critical Infrastructure: securing the nation’s backbone
Policy Discussion on Statement of Principles for Cybersecurity
Policy Discussion on Statement of Principles for the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
10:10am Adjourn10:15am Welcome and Introductions
10:20am Presentation – Interconnection: Technology and Policy
8:00am Welcome and Introductions8:00am – 10:15am Subcommittee Meetings of the International Relations Task Force and Federalism Working Group
8:10am Review of the Operating Procedures
8:20am Introduce New Subcommittee: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education 8:30am K-12 Education ReformProposed Model Bills for Consideration￼￼￼10:00am Presentations
Early Intervention Program Act K-1 Technology-Based Reading Intervention for English Learners Act Course Choice Act Student Achievement Backpack Act Student Futures Program ActTechnical Amendments The Foster Child Scholarship Program Act The Education Savings Account ActSunset Review Personal Financial Literacy Act (2009) “Student-Focused Funding Solutions for Public Education” “Public Education Appropriations in North Dakota”10:30am Policy Priorities Discussion Higher Education Digital Learning 11:00am Good of the Order/Adjournment
8:00am – 9:00am Federalism Subcommittee9:00am – 11:30am Subcommittee Meetings of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force
9:15am – 10:15am Intellectual Property Subcommittee
9:00am – 10:15am Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force9:45am – 11:30am Subcommittee Meetings of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force9:00am Welcome and Introductions by Representative Gary Daniels, New Hampshire, Public Sector Chair and Mr. F. Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center, Private Sector Chair10:30am – 11:30am Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force
￼9:05am Proposed Model Legislation: Discussion and Advisory Vote on the Private Certification Act
9:25am Proposed Model Legislation: Discussion and Advisory Vote on the Public Employee Choice Act
9:40am Proposed Model Legislation: Discussion and Advisory Vote on the Resolution against Legislation that Interferes with Business Agreements
10:05am Discussion and Advisory Vote on the Amendments to ALEC’s Resolution on Business and Franchise Agreement Legislation
10:10am For the Good of the Order
10:15am Adjournment10:30am Welcome and Introductions by Mr. Jim Kvedaras, CN, Private Sector Chair and Public Sector Chair TBA
10:35am “Let’s Get Moving: How America Finances its Different Modes of Transportation”: Moving our nation’s people and products is of vital importance to the American economy, and it is imperative that different modes of transportation are able to seamlessly work together. Come hear from a panel of industry experts how America finances the different modes of transportation—surface, rail, aviation, and waterways — and how state policymakers can create an environment in which they can work together to further America’s economic growth.
11:10am Proposed Model Legislation: Discussion and Advisory Vote on Resolution on Autonomous Vehicle Legislation and Regulation
11:25am For the Good of the Order
9:45am – 11:15am EPA Strategy Session of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force10:00am – 11:00am Subcommittee Meetings of the Civil Justice Task Force9:45am Call to Order, Welcome, and Introductions
￼￼9:50am Discussion of strategies legislative and private sector members can employ to address EPA’s rulemaking to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants
10:00am – 11:00am Workers’ Compensation Subcommittee9:00am – 5:00pm ALEC Exhibition Hall Open10:00am Welcome and Introductions
10:30am Discussion: Developing Guidelines for Workers’ Compensation Reform
9:00am – 11:00am State Chairs Meeting
11:00am – 12:00pm New Members and Attendees Orientation
11:30am – 1:15pm Opening Luncheon with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.)
1:30pm – 2:45pm Workshops (Topics TBA)
3:00pm – 4:15pm Workshops (Topics TBA)
5:30pm – 7:00pm Thomas Jefferson Reception with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)
9:00pm – 11:00pm Hats Off to Texas: A 41st Annual Meeting Preview Reception
Center for Media and Democracy’s Nick Surgey has written a comprehensive overview of Google’s recent lobbying efforts, which include:
- $10,000 from Google’s NetPAC to Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for Senate in 2012
- $2,500 to Ted Cruz’s 2018 re-election campaign
- Funding of Heritage Action, which held a nine-city “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour” in August 2013 with Sen. Cruz
- “Gold Sponsor” funding for the Federalist Society 2013 annual dinner, featuring Justice Clarence Thomas
- $50,000 sponsorship of the Competitive Enterprise Institute 2013 annual dinner, featuring Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
- Support for Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, the American Conservative Union, and the Koch brothers’ Cato Institute, all new in 2013
These politicians and organizations describe the scientific threat of global warming from fossil-fuel combustion as a liberal conspiracy to promote policies to seize power, cripple the economy and limit American freedom. They all have close ties to the fossil-fuel industry.
“Political spending for corporations is purely transactional. It is all about getting policies that maximize profitability,” Bob McChesney, founder of Free Press, told CMD. “So even ostensibly hip companies like Google invariably spend lavishly to support groups and politicians that pursue decidedly anti-democratic policy outcomes. It is why sane democracies strictly regulate or even prohibit such spending, regarding it accurately as a cancer for democratic governance.”
Google did not respond to CMD’s request for comment.
At the American Legislative Exchange Council’s upcoming States & Nation Policy Summit, the corporate lobbying group will be considering a resolution aimed to stall rooftop solar deployment.
Green Tech Media’s Stephen Lacey reports:
In early December, ALEC will be holding a task force meeting on energy and environmental issues in Washington, D.C. It has now included net metering on its list of priorities for “model legislation” in 2014.
ALEC recently put together a draft resolution on net metering that will set up discussions at next month’s task force meeting on writing laws changing net metering policies.
As currently written, the resolution lacks detail. But the broad framework mirrors the current debate within utilities about how to restructure crediting mechanisms for solar owners:
- Update net metering policies to require that everyone who uses the grid helps pay to maintain it and to keep it operating reliably at all times;
- Create a fixed grid charge or other rate mechanisms that recover grid costs from DG systems to ensure that costs are transparent to the customer; and
- Ensure electric rates are fair and affordable for all customers and that all customers have safe and reliable electricity.
“The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade group for investor-owned utilities, helped write the resolution with ALEC,” writes Lacey. “And Arizona Public Service, a utility at the center of the battle around net metering policy, is also a member of the organization’s energy and environment task force.”
“We supported them. [...] We worked with them on that resolution,” said Rick Tempchin, executive director of retail energy services at EEI, in a video recorded surreptitiously by the Checks and Balances Project. Lacey continues:
Over the summer, EEI released a report warning that distributed generation technologies like solar “directly threaten the centralized utility model” and called for increased attention on how to manage disruption in the power sector.
Months later, EEI began spending money on a campaign to support changes to net metering policy in Arizona — adding to the $9 million already spent by Arizona Public Service.
The electric utility on ALEC’s corporate board, Energy Future Holdings, tells the public it is committed to supporting renewable energy.
Also on the agenda for the energy task force at the 2013 summit is “Discussion of strategies legislative and private sector members can employ to address EPA’s rulemaking to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.” The task force plans to keep ALEC “on record opposing any EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”
ALEC’s anti-climate agenda is raising questions about why publicly green companies have recently joined the organization. For example, in 2011, Google invested over $350 million in rooftop-solar deployment. In 2013, Google joined ALEC.
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