One of Clean Energy's Biggest Opponents is Sinking -- But Who Is Throwing Them a Lifeline?
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) promotes some pretty odious ideas. The right-wing think tank has been behind efforts to kill job-creating clean energy projects, penalize American homeowners who install their own solar panels, and force public schools to teach climate denial to students. They've even named the Sierra Club as one of their enemies. That's not surprising, given that their members have included a who's who of the dirty energy industry -- BP, Shell, Chevron, Peabody Energy, and the Koch Brothers.
ALEC's reckless policies extend beyond the energy and environmental realm to laws that suppress voting rights and threaten the safety of American workers, communities, and families. Now, just as the organization holds its annual conference in Washington, DC this week, the Guardian newspaper reports that ALEC is on the ropes. Its extreme policies are now so far out of the mainstream that they've sent many one-time donors running for the hills rather than have ALEC's stink rub off on them. The organization's staunch support of so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws following the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin may have been the last straw, as over 50 big-time ALEC donors and supporters like General Electric, Kraft, and McDonald's have fled -- and ALEC is crawling on its knees to try and gain them back.
But as all these companies are fleeing ALEC for fear of damaging their reputations, a few others are inexplicably signing up and signing checks to the floundering right-wing extremists even now. The most surprising among them? Google.
For a company celebrated around the world for its innovation and imagination, Google's new allegiance with ALEC doesn't make much sense. After all, Google made investments in clean energy projects across the world -- and the company has made a remarkable commitment to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
So, why is Google heaping money and support into one of the nation's most notorious opponents of clean energy and climate action? It's illogical.
As Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune said, "Google should Google ALEC's agenda. Funding right-wing extremists at ALEC is a guaranteed way for Google to undermine its own admirable clean energy goals. It's like building a new house only to set it on fire after defunding the fire department."
ALEC's list of attacks on clean energy is as long as it is dangerous. At its conference this week, ALEC representatives and supporters are plotting ways to stop the first-ever protections from carbon pollution. The Guardian reported ALEC wants to push legislation in states to levy fines against American homeowners who put solar panels on their own homes. For 2014, ALEC plans to continue its attacks on Renewable Portfolio Standards that would otherwise create jobs by expanding consumers' access to wind and solar energy. They've pushed the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. And they've successfully lobbied for oil and gas industry-sponsored fracking bills in five states.
All this -- and they are using Google's money to do it.
If Google is for 100 percent clean energy, their new pals at ALEC are for the exact opposite. That's why the Sierra Club's SierraRise community has been part of an effort including Forecast the Facts, SumOfUs, RootsAction, and the Center for Media and Democracy that has rallied more than 225,000 Americans to call on Google to keep its admirable commitment to clean energy, and leave ALEC behind. Google’s motto is "Don't Be Evil" -- but they shouldn't fund evil, either.
--Nathan Empsall, SierraRise Senior Campaigner