Google just officially ended its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a shadowy right-wing organization that writes industry-friendly bills for conservative legislators to pass at the local, state and national level. In explaining their decision to part ways with ALEC, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR’s Diane Rehm that the group is “literally lying” about climate change: “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.”
Google’s not alone – Microsoft announced in August that it will sever its ties with ALEC, citing the group’s lobbying against renewable energy. Both Microsoft and Google are investing in clean energy projects – last year Microsoft announced it would power one of its data centers from a 110 megawatt Texas wind farm and Google announced it would invest $103 million in a California solar power plant. Google has invested more than $1 billion in wind and solar projects and has a goal to power its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy.
ALEC has mounted an intense campaign to block any legislation favorable to clean energy — targeting state renewable portfolio standards and EPA regulations of greenhouse gas emissions. ALEC formed in 1973 as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to the conservative principles of “free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level.” However over the years the organization has been accused of being a front group for major corporations to push their anti-regulation, anti-tax agenda through legislatures. In addition to its relentless attacks on clean energy, last year ALEC pushed “model bills” in three states that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in schools.
Earlier this month a letter from 50 public interest groups was sent to Google urging the Internet giant to cut ties with ALEC. The letter stated that “the public knows that the ALEC operation—which brings state legislators and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to discuss proposed legislation and share lavish dinners—threatens our democracy. The public is asking Google to stop participating in this scheme.”
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