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.
Several 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
Heritage’s mock climate report, presented at the Google-funded Heritage Foundation.
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.
From the Wonk Room.
From 1998 to 2005, ExxonMobil directed almost $16 million to a group of 43 lobby groups in an effort to confuse Americans about global warming. After being criticized by the Royal Society in 2006, Exxon promised to end funding to groups questioning climate change. In May 2008, Exxon again issued a public mea culpa and pledged to cut funding to groups that “divert attention” from the need to develop and invest in clean energy. Yet, in 2008, while cutting contributions to the most extreme groups, Exxon still funded the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, all groups which publicly question or deny global warming:
Company records for 2008 show that ExxonMobil gave $75,000 (£45,500) to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas and $50,000 (£30,551) to the Heritage Foundation in Washington. It also gave $245,000 (£149,702) to the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington. The list of donations in the company’s 2008 Worldwide Contributions and Community investments is likely to trigger further anger from environmental activists, who have accused ExxonMobil of giving tens of millions to climate change sceptics in the past decade.
Exxon’s continued duplicity should come as no surprise. Just as ExxonMobil makes public promises to end funding to groups that work to deny climate change, it also has devoted millions to ad campaigns touting clean energy without actually investing significantly in renewable energy. In 2007, Exxon-Mobil spent $100 million on advertising and “green-washing” campaigns in an attempt to exaggerate their commitment to renewable energy, producing ads that focused on global warming, efficiency, and alternative energy. That’s despite the fact that ExxonMobil spent more on CEO Rex Tillerson’s salary than on renewable energy in 2007. While Tillerson took in $21.7 million, Exxon invested only $10 million or so in renewable energy – just a tenth of the amount they spent talking about investing in clean energy.
Exxon is staffed by and supports those who deny the most basic facts of climate change and global warming. In June 2005, White House official Philip Cooney had to resign from Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality after being caught altering documents to hide links between fossil fuels and global warming. ExxonMobil waited only three days to hire him. In fact, ExxonMobil didn’t admit that global warming is occurring until 2007.
This latest evidence of Exxon’s continued opposition to clean energy comes less than a month after the American Petroleum Institute released a report revealing just how little the top Big Oil companies invest in renewable energy.