Google Drops American Legislative Exchange Council Over Climate Denial: 'They're Literally Lying'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:24:00 GMT

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.

Kristin: Hi, yes, thank you so much for taking my call, Diane.

D: Sure.

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.

Transcript of ALEC press release:
“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.”

Google's Republican Lobbyists and Representatives

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:22:00 GMT

Niki Fenwick
Google ex-McCain PR representative Niki Christoff
An article in the Wall Street Journal about Google’s rapid rightward shift goes beyond the hire of former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) as their chief lobbyist:
Starting in 2010, when the antitrust case first started appearing on the horizon, Google started hiring Republican lobbyists and communications staff.

To head up its Washington office, Google in 2012 hired former Republican congresswoman Susan Molinari. Niki Christoff, a veteran of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, was moved to Washington last year to head up Google’s communications in the capital.

Before that, Google hired Pablo Chavez, a former general counsel for Mr. McCain, who recently left for LinkedIn; Seth Webb, a former staffer for the Republican Speaker of the House; and Jill Hazelbaker, who also worked for a string of Republican candidates.

Today, Google’s in-house lobbyists are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, says a person familiar with the situation.

Its spending on lobbying rose from around $1.5 million in 2007 to $14 million in 2013.

Jill Hazelbaker, Google’s head of corporate communications from 2010 to 2013, was the subject of a 2011 profile in Business Insider which explained her meteoric rise as a top member of the 2008 John McCain campaign. Hazelbaker’s early Internet politics credentials came from trolling Democrats under assumed names as a member of the Tom Kean Jr. senatorial campaign in New Jersey in 2006. In 2013, she moved to the United Kingdom to head Google’s European lobbying efforts. Her Twitter account, @jillhazelbaker, is protected.

Seth Webb was hired by Google from his Republican House staff position in 2009, when their DC operation was still primarily Democratic leaning technocrats.

Nicole “Niki” Christoff (Fenwick) was a policy liaison for the 2008 John McCain campaign, starting at McCain’s Straight Talk America in March 2006. She was previously an associate policy director at the Republican polling shop Luntz Research Companies, and worked at Baker Botts LLP in Washington, DC as a trial attorney specializing in criminal defense. Christoff graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003 and Harvard College in 2000. Her Twitter account, @nikichristoff, is protected.

The WSJ article did not mention Rachel Whetstone, Google’s senior vice president of communications and public policy since 2005, a Tory scion and one of the “100 most powerful women in Britain” in 2013. Her husband Steve Hilton was the “Rasputin-like” chief strategy advisor to prime minister David Cameron.

The WSJ reporters Thomas Catan, Brody Mullins, and Gautam Nagesh also note that Google’s contributions have shifted from majority Democratic to majority Republican:
In the 2008 election cycle, Google’s political-action committee, funded by employee donations, supported Democrats, 58% to 42%, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2012 cycle, Republicans took a slight lead, and in the current election cycle, donations to the parties are running about even.

Despite Progressive Brand, Google Now a Major Funder of Climate-Denial Infrastructure

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 27 Nov 2013 16:59:00 GMT

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.

ALEC Plans Attack on Solar Net Metering

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:54:00 GMT

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Under Susan Molinari, Google Has Veered Away From Green Policy

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 20 Nov 2013 10:55:00 GMT

Susan Molinari
Susan Molinari at a Google/Elle/Center for American Progress event January 19, 2013
A review of the "don't be evil" Internet giant Google's stance toward climate change and green policy finds a significant shift to the right in recent years, following the Tea Party surge election and the collapse of mandatory climate legislation in 2010.

Since 2012, Google's policy division has been run by former Republican representative Susan Molinari, a long-time corporate lobbyist. Molinari, whose personal contributions are exclusively to Republicans, has led the Google Washington DC office to host fundraisers exclusively for Republican senators, including Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), according to the Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time database. Under Molinari's direction, Google also supports climate-denial shops such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and the American Conservative Union.

Google's fundraiser for Sen. Inhofe in July sparked controversy and protest, and the membership in ALEC raised a new round of criticism from industry press and Google users.

Google's political support for opponents of its green agenda appears to be part of a retreat from its serious climate-policy agenda of a few years ago.

In 2007, renewable energy politico Dan Reicher joined Google as Director, Climate Change and Energy Initiatives for, the company's charitable arm.

Starting that year, Google publicly committed to carbon neutrality because "Solving climate change won’t be simple, and there won’t be a single solution that addresses the entire problem at once. We all need to act together to meet the challenge – from the largest corporations and governments to individual households."

Google pledged then:

Finally, we will campaign for public policies designed to cut emissions to the levels required to keep our climate system stable. We support energy efficiency standards that accelerate the deployment of energy-efficient technologies throughout the world, specific targets to increase renewable energy supplies on the grid, public support for research and development aimed at developing and commercializing low-carbon technologies, and mandatory emissions limits that put a price on carbon.
Google's climate policy platform initially included efficiency standards, a federal renewable portfolio standard, public funding for clean-energy research and development, and a price on greenhouse pollution.

"Meeting our goal will also require improved regulatory frameworks at the regional and national level," Google continued. "We will advocate for specific changes including a national renewable portfolio standard, increased research and development support, and regional and federal incentives for the deployment of renewable electricity."

The call for a carbon price was eliminated from Google's site at the end of 2007. The individual policy provisions were replaced with the Google Clean Energy 2030 plan in November 2008. This effort was led by's Climate and Energy Technology Manager, Dr. Jeffery Greenblatt, who left Google in 2009 to join the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Reicher, who testified repeatedly before Congress in favor of climate and clean-energy legislation on Google's behalf in 2009, left Google at the end of 2010, to join the Stanford Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

In 2011, published "The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation," which compared policy scenarios including a suite of renewable-energy policies and a $30/ton carbon tax. This research was led by Google Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl, who was hired by Facebook at the end of that year.

Also in 2011, Google's Green site was revamped, eliminating policy mentions but including a 100% renewable energy goal for the company's operations.

Then Molinari joined Google in 2012.

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.

Greening The Internet: How Leading Companies are Building a Green Web

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 13 Nov 2013 21:00:00 GMT

Greenpeace and Gigaom’s Katie Fehrenbacher cordially invite you to a special forum on the sustainability of the IT sector:

Greening The Internet: How Leading Companies are Building a Green Web

At the San Francisco Exploratorium.

Cloud and mobile computing are transforming society and have the potential to help make it greener. But the rapid growth in electricity needed to power the online world is gaining attention and raising a central question: How Green is the Internet?

In an important shift, some of the best known Internet companies have recently embraced this challenge head on. Join data center and sustainability experts from Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace, and other leading companies to hear why they are going beyond energy efficiency and have committed to powering their growth with clean renewable electricity.

Gigaom’s Katie Fehrenbacher will lead a discussion with energy experts and representatives from Internet companies who have already committed to power their operations with 100% renewable electricity, to address question like:

  • Why are leading Internet companies committing to 100% renewable energy?
  • How can Internet companies play an important role in accelerating a shift to renewable energy?
  • What are the challenges to powering with renewables, and how have companies overcome them?
  • What renewable energy options do companies who rely on colocation providers have?

Following the forum, all participants are invited to take a tour of the Rainbow Warrior III, Greenpeace’s new custom-built, high-tech sailing ship, which will be docked next to the Exploratorium.

12:45PM Registration
1:00PM Welcome – Katie Fehrenbacher, Senior Writer, GigaOM
1:05PM Building a Green Internet—Why It Matters and Signs of Leadership, Gary Cook, Senior IT Analyst, Greenpeace International
1:15PM What are the options to build a Green Internet?
1:20PM Greening the Internet: Leading internet companies share why and how they are seeking to power their platforms with clean power. Presentations by Box, Facebook, Google, Rackspace and other leading technology companies.
2:30PM Break
2:40PM-4:00PM Complimentary 20-minute tours of Rainbow Warrior III, Greenpeace flagship docked at the Exploratorium
2:40PM In depth lessons learned sessions on renewable energy options and energy reporting (company representatives only)


Facebook Bill Weihl

Bill Weihl joined Facebook in early 2012 to manage sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives. His group is leading projects to measure and report the company’s carbon and energy footprint, to build real-time public dashboards for PUE and WUE, and to procure clean energy, and generally to understand and manage the company’s environmental footprint. Previously, he spent six years as green energy czar at Google, where he led efforts in energy efficiency and renewable energy, spearheading Google’s drive to become carbon neutral, founding the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, and leading the RE&IT initiative to develop renewable energy cheaper than coal. He has extensive business and technical experience in high-tech, including ten years as a professor of computer science at MIT, five years as a research scientist at Digital’s Systems Research Center, and five years as chief architect and then CTO of Akamai Technologies. In 2009, he was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment.

Rackspace Hosting Melissa Gray Senior Director of Sustainability

Melissa is responsible for defining and guiding Rackspace’s Sustainability strategy and activities around the globe. She leads the Global Energy Team, Green Teams and is a member of the Global Infrastructure Team. In addition she leads the Emerging Talent team for Rackspace’s Foundation Services organization and is the Executive Sponsor of the LGBTQA Emloyee Resource Group. Since joining Rackspace in October of 2009, her prior roles have included the development of Operational Support Systems and Chief of Staff to the CEO developing Rackspace’s multi-year strategic plan. Prior to Rackspace, Gray brings over 15 years of business strategy and operations experience working for a Fortune 10 company, transforming complex legacy businesses through innovation. She holds 3 EU and US software patents. Melissa received her B.A. from Western Michigan University.

Google Gary Demasi Director of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy

Gary has over 15 strategy development, corporate site selection, and negotiations experience covering a wide range of industries and operational areas. He has personally managed projects involving hundreds of millions of dollars of capital expenditures, and has executed strategic projects on five continents. In Gary’s current role, he develops overall direction for Google’s global data center site strategy, including managing the company’s energy portfolio, working closely with utility and development partners to secure clean energy for operations. Gary participated in the founding of “Google Energy, LLC” and under Gary’s management, the team has secured over 570 megawatts of renewable energy under long term contracts. Gary holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Vermont and a Master of Science in Real Estate from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

Box Andy Broer Senior Manager of Datacenter Operations

Andy Broer is the senior manager of data center operations at Box. He is responsible for server procurement and provisioning, space and power management and the critical environment that runs Box’s Saas offering. Previous to joining Box in Feb of 2013 he headed Cisco’s Infrastructure Critical Environments (ICE) team for 16 years. Where he was most recently the physical data center design manager of Richardson 9’s DC, the IT “energy czar” watching over capacity constraints for Cisco’s critical IT environments. He was the IT DC build manager for Cisco’s first stand alone Tier III data center in Texas. Prior to that he headed and managed the Data Center Infrastructure Team through Cisco’s explosive growth years in the late 1990s via global acquisitions during which time his team built more than 100 server environments around the world. He was a board and founding member of AFCOM’s northern California branch in 1997 as well as a trustee for a high tech mutual fund (BFOCX) since 1998. He is now co-chair of the Critical Facilities Roundtable’s Technology Group (CFRT). He holds two degrees from San Jose State University: a BA and an MA.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Stuart Macmillan

Stuart Macmillan is a Chief Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a Consulting Professor at Stanford University. He was on the founding team of Energy System Integration focused on improved understanding, decision-making, control and design of complex energy systems. He helped create OpenEI, a global energy data commons, and was on the founding team of JavaSoft.

Greenpeace International Gary Cook Senior IT Policy Analyst

Gary leads Greenpeace’s evaluation of climate and energy leadership by global IT brands. He has authored three reports evaluating the growth in electricity demand associated with cloud computing and how different IT companies are performing in ensuring this new demand is powered by renewable energy. Gary has been active in the climate change & energy policy at multiple levels over the past 18 years, working with government officials, multinational corporations, and local governments to strengthen policy drivers at the international, federal, subnational levels Prior to rejoining Greenpeace in 2009, Gary was California Director of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

Google-Funded Organizations Join Kochs To Call for Wind Production Tax Credit to Expire

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 06 Nov 2013 02:07:00 GMT

AFP anti-PTC adSeveral organizations sponsored by Internet giant Google are calling on Congress to let the wind production tax credit to expire. A full-page advertisement from the Koch brothers organization Americans for Prosperity states that the “undersigned organizations and the millions of Americans we represent stand opposed to extending the production tax credit (PTC)” because the “wind industry has very little to show after 20 years of preferential tax treatment.”

“Americans deserve energy solutions that can make it on their own in the marketplace — not ones that need to be propped up by government indefinitely,” the letter concludes.

Signatories of the letter who are Google-sponsored organizations, according to Google’s public policy transparency page, include:
  • American Conservative Union
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Heritage Action For America
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • R Street Institute

Google’s public policy division, which chose to sponsor the above groups, is run by former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

In addition to Americans for Prosperity, other signatories notorious for promoting climate-change denial and attacks on climate scientists include the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), Cornwall Alliance, Freedom Works, Independent Women’s Forum, Club for Growth, and the American Energy Alliance.

The listed organizations are not the only Google-supported opponents of wind power. This year, Google joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose energy agenda is driven by Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies. ALEC’s vigorous campaign against state-level renewable energy standards led to the resignation of the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, who had been members in ALEC until this year. Google only updated its public policy transparency page to include its membership in ALEC recently, months after the first reports in August of its membership.

Google is a major beneficiary of the wind PTC, as the company has the stated goal of “100% renewable energy” power for its operations, which include energy-intensive data centers across the nation. Google currently is the sole customer of the entire output of three different wind farms — NextEra’s 114-megawatt Story County II wind farm in Iowa, NextEra’s 100.8MW Minco II wind farm in Oklahoma, and Chermac Energy’s planned 239.2 MW Happy Hereford wind farm in Amarillo, Tex. Breaking Energy’s Glenn Schleede has estimated that Google will receive a $370 to $417 million benefit from the PTC over ten years if it is continued.

If the PTC expires, Google shareholders will suffer, as will the nation’s growing wind industry. Moreover, the effort to meet the challenge of eliminating greenhouse pollution will be stalled, as the fossil-fuel industry enjoys the benefits of not having to pay for the costs of its civilization-threatening pollution. Climate and corporate accountability groups Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs have called on Google to end its support for politicians and groups that reject the threat of climate change and oppose clean-energy policy.

Google has not responded to requests for comment.

Update: The fossil-fuel industry group American Energy Alliance’s Press Secretary Chris Warren has notified Hill Heat of an error in the originally published letter. The original list included “Parker Hannifin – Hydraulic Filter Division” in the list of supporting organizations. The corrected letter replaces that group with the “Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition.”

Google's Climate Scientists Criticize Latest Google-Funded Act Of Climate Denial, Featuring Heritage Foundation and Heartland Institute

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 26 Sep 2013 18:19:00 GMT

Heritage’s mock climate report, presented at the Google-funded Heritage Foundation.
Criticism of Google for its support of climate-change deniers continued this week, as yet another Google-funded organization promoted conspiracy theories about the threat of man-made global warming. On Monday, September 23, the Google-financed Heritage Foundation hosted hosted Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast, Willie Soon, and Bob Carter to present “Climate Change Reconsidered II,” in which they argued that the world’s scientific community have systematically overstated the dangers to humanity of unregulated carbon pollution.

Like the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, Soon, and Carter have significant funding from the fossil-fuel industry and a long record of questioning not only the economics of regulating climate pollution but the underlying science itself.

Greenpeace activists confronted Bast at Heritage after the event, asking him to reveal whether Chicago magnate Barre Seid funded the multimillion-dollar climate-denial initiative. Bast refused to answer the question.

Since Google’s selection of former Republican representative Susan Molinari as their chief lobbyist, the Internet giant has embraced key players in the climate-denial machine. In the last few months, Google was the top funder of the annual dinner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, famed for its “CO2: We Call It Life” ads, held a fundraiser for the re-election of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned the book “The Greatest Hoax,” and was revealed to be a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has argued that “substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.”

Google’s support of the Heritage Foundation elicited new criticism from climate scientists associated with the company.

“Their motto may be ‘don’t be evil,’ but they apparently don’t have any problem with giving it money,” climate scientist Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, told Hill Heat in an e-mail interview.

“If you want to be a corporate leader on climate change or science education, you should fund groups to combat the anti-science garbage produced by Heritage, not the other way around,” said climate scientist Simon Donner, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, when asked for comment.

Dr. Dessler and Dr. Donner were Google Climate Science Communication Fellows in 2011. They and 15 other Fellows recently sent an open letter to the company criticizing its fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), writing that “in the face of urgent threats like climate change, there are times where companies like Google must display moral leadership and carefully evaluate their political bedfellows.”

In a campaign led by climate accountability organization Forecast the Facts, over 150,000 people have signed petitions challenging Google’s support for climate deniers, and have staged protests in Washington DC, New York City, and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

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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