ALEC DC Summit Speakers Lineup: Top Republican 2016 Presidential Contenders, Climate Conspiracy Theorists

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 20 Nov 2013 06:55:00 GMT

ALEC Summit speakers
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Gov. Matt Mead (R-Wyo.), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
The upcoming American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) States & Nation Policy Summit will feature several nationally prominent Republicans with potential aspirations for the U.S. 2016 presidential nomination. The announced speakers at the annual conference of the lobbying group, which links corporations and conservative foundations with Republican state legislators, include, in order of appearance:

All five reject the science of climate change, arguing that scientists are part of a conspiracy to attack the use of fossil fuels.

  • Johnson: “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination. It’s far more likely that it’s sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time.”
  • Ryan: Scientists are guilty of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion” to “use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”
  • Mead: “I am unconvinced that climate change is man-made, but I do recognize we may face challenges presented by those who propose and believe they can change our climate by law with ill-thought-out policy like cap and trade (the latest version of which is the Senate Climate Bill, S. 1733, unveiled May 12th).”
  • Cruz: “There remains considerable uncertainty about the effect of the many factors that influence climate: the sun, the oceans, clouds, the behavior of water vapor (the main greenhouse gas), volcanic activity, and human activity. Nonetheless, climate-change proponents based their models on assumptions about those factors, and now we know that many of those assumptions were wrong.”
  • Pence: “I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming. . . In the mainstream media, Chris, there is a denial of the growing skepticism in the scientific community about global warming.”

Also scheduled to speak is Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lobbyist appointed by President Obama in 2012 as a Republican FCC Commissioner, and rising Republican star State Sen. Mark Green (R-Tenn.-22), a military veteran, former field surgeon, and radical gun-rights advocate.

The climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts is protesting Google’s support for ALEC on account of the council’s opposition to Google’s stated support for climate policy action.

Google and Facebook Green Experts Baffled By Their Companies' Support For ALEC

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 17 Nov 2013 13:02:00 GMT

At a recent forum on the Internet industry’s support for green energy, Facebook and Google representatives could not explain why their companies are members of a powerful lobbying organization that opposes that mission. This year, Google and Facebook became members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a nationwide lobbying group that links corporations and conservative foundations with Republican legislators at the state level. When asked by Hill Heat, Facebook’s Bill Weihl replied with reference to other Facebook partners, including Businesses for Social Responsibility (BSR), the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF):
We’re not an advocacy or a single-issue organization. We’re a company. We are members of many different organizations, that one included. We don’t necessarily agree with everything that these organizations says and certainly individual employees may not, but we do an enormous amount of good and we’re really proud of the work we’ve done through other organizations. We work with Greenpeace, BSR, WRI, WWF, and etcetera.

“It’s certainly not because we’re trying to oppose renewable energy legislation,” Weihl concluded, when asked why Facebook is a member of ALEC.

Weihl had earlier noted that Facebook has the explicit goal of being 25% powered by renewable energy by 2015, after which it will set another benchmark. ALEC is working to roll back renewable power standards that support Facebook’s targets.

“The DNA of Google isn’t just about being an environmental steward,” Google’s Gary Demasi said during the panel about climate change. “It’s a basic fundamental issue for the company.”

Like Weihl, Demasi couldn’t explain why Google was a member of ALEC, though he expressed discomfort with the company’s action.

“I would say the same as Bill [Weihl],” Demasi told this reporter when asked why Google supports ALEC. Although he may not be happy with every decision the company makes and doesn’t control the policy arm of Google, Demasi said, “we’re part of policy discussions.”

ALEC’s corporate board is dominated by tobacco and fossil-fuel interests, including Altria, Exxon Mobil, Peabody Energy, and Koch Industries. In its model legislation and policy briefs, ALEC questions the science of climate change and opposes renewable energy standards, regulation of greenhouse pollution, and other climate initiatives.

Google’s policy division is run by former Republican representative Susan Molinari, whose arrival in 2012 marked a rightward shift in Google’s approach to climate policy.

The forum, “Greening the Internet,” was hosted by the environmental organization Greenpeace at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Greenpeace is simultaneously challenging the ALEC agenda, calling out companies like Google for supporting the politics of climate denial, and encouraging internet companies to “clean the cloud.” Greenpeace’s “Cool IT” rankings take political advocacy as a major concern; in 2012 Google had the top score among all tech companies in part because companies such as Microsoft and AT&T were members of ALEC.

The panelists, from Google, Facebook, Rackspace, Box, and NREL, explained why their companies have set the goal of having their data centers be powered entirely by renewable energy.

Box’s Andy Broer made the moral case for acting to reduce climate pollution.

“I’ve got kids,” he said. “We’re stewards here. We need to make certain what we’re doing today doesn’t ruin the future.”


HILLHEAT: I want to, first off, thank all of you for the work that you’re doing. As kind of a failed climate scientist, I’ve dedicated my life to fighting climate change, and you’re actually getting real results in that. One thing that concerns me is that the American Legislative Exchange Council — which is a corporate group that anyone who is a member of Greenpeace or has read anything of their work [knows] — works to block renewable energy legislation at the state level, question the science of climate change, and basically establish policies that prevent the kind of work that you’re doing. So I’m wondering why Google and Facebook are members of this organization, and how it makes you feel that the work that you’re doing is essentially being countered by the political arms of your own groups?

[Nervous audience laughter.]

WEIHL: We’re not an advocacy or a single-issue organization. We’re a company. We are members of many different organizations, that one included. We don’t necessarily agree with everything that these organizations says and certainly individual employees may not, but we are in a position do an enormous amount of good, and we’re really proud of the work we’ve done as a company, and through other organizations. We work with Greenpeace, BSR, WRI, WWF, and et cetera.

HILLHEAT: And do you know why you’re working with ALEC?

WEIHL: I’m not familiar with all the details of why we’re working with ALEC, so I can’t comment on that.

HILLHEAT: It’s not because you’re trying to oppose renewable energy legislation?

WEIHL: It’s certainly not because we’re trying to oppose renewable energy legislation.

HILLHEAT: And is Google in the same boat?

FEHRENBACHER: I’m going to go on to the next question.

Microsoft Defends Its Support For Anti-Climate American Legislative Exchange Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 17 Sep 2013 20:22:00 GMT

Microsoft is defending its membership in one of the country’s most notorious enemies of environmental protection, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In an August blog post, Microsoft chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard acknowledged that his company is a member and supporter of ALEC, which has for decades promoted an agenda of climate change denial, attacks on renewable energy, and opposition to environmental protection on behalf of funders such as Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and other conservative fossil-fuel interests. ALEC is an alliance of corporations, conservative foundations, and Republican state legislators that promotes anti-regulatory and conservative legislation at the state level.

Bernard argued that Microsoft’s membership in ALEC “is not an endorsement” of the group’s anti-environmental agenda:
As you would expect, Microsoft works with a wide range of groups across the political spectrum addressing policy issues important to our business. We work with many of these groups on narrowly-tailored technology policy issues and not the full set of issues they address. Our engagement with a particular group is not an endorsement of all the policy positions those groups have taken. For instance, we’ve received some questions about model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council that would repeal renewable energy mandates at the state level. To clarify this issue, Microsoft participates in ALEC’s Communication and Technology Task Force, as do many leading companies in the technology sector. We do not participate in any other ALEC task forces or provide any support or funding for ALEC’s work on environmental issues or other issues outside of communication and technology policy. In short, ALEC is not speaking for us on renewable energy policy.

Microsoft is also a funder of the Heartland Institute, a long-time partner of ALEC in the promotion of climate change denial and attacks on the integrity of climate scientists.

Learn About Google's Climate Denial Funding via Google+

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 13 Sep 2013 00:34:00 GMT

Google is no longer simply the Internet’s search engine. The company now is building Google+ into a diverse, curated-garden experience with the goal of social media domination that keeps user traffic within Google’s walls. In recent years the company has significantly ramped up its engagement in national politics, led by former Republican representative Susan Molinari.

The revamped Google is now joining the ranks of the top corporate funders of the climate-denial movement. In 2013, Google has held a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Inhofe (“Global warming is a hoax”) at its DC headquarters, been the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (“CO2: We Call It Life”), and joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (“Even substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States”).

In response, hundreds of people have flooded the Google+ page for the Google DC headquarters with one-star reviews. The page also now includes photographs from the protest organized by Forecast the Facts during the Google DC fundraiser for Inhofe.

This digital activism is only part of a 150,000-person strong campaign led by Forecast the Facts with support from Credo, Greenpeace, Sum Of Us, and other groups. The coalition has organized on-the-street protests of Google in DC, Mountain View, and New York City.

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