Google to Quit ALEC; Schmidt Cites Climate Change ‘Lies’
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt announced Monday that the Internet giant would no longer support the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), citing the conservative pro-business group’s climate change denial and “lies.”
In an interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm, Schmidt accused ALEC, which brings business leaders and conservative lawmakers together to draft model pro-business, state-level legislation, of lying about human-caused climate change.
“Everyone understands that climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” said Schmidt. “And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.”
Schmidt called Google’s association with ALEC, which included funding, “a mistake.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
Fully 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the global warming trends over the past century are most likely due to human activity.
According to its website, ALEC “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”
Google had been a member of ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which helped draft laws in several states which have made it difficult for municipalities to compete against private Internet service providers by offering their own Internet service.
Other tech companies, including Facebook, Yahoo, eBay and Yelp, have joined the Communications and Technology Task Force. Microsoft recently severed ties with ALEC. Dozens of other major corporations, including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Bank of America, McDonald’s, Walmart and IBM, have done likewise.
ALEC has drawn intense criticism for supporting a wide range of harmful or controversial laws, including:
– So-called ‘stand your ground’ gun laws.
– Voter identification laws which critics claim disenfranchise minority, poor and student voters.
– So-called ‘ag gag’ laws criminalizing the recording of animal cruelty on factory farms.
– ‘Tough on crime’ laws and prison privatization, simultaneously.
– Privatization of public education.
– Telecommunications industry deregulation.
– Utility industry deregulation.
The group has also staunchly opposed the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’
On the environmental front, ALEC has vehemently opposed renewable energy. It has also been an ardent supporter of the potentially devastating Keystone XL crude oil pipeline while working to limit or roll back environmental protection measures in support of the fossil fuel corporations whose polluting products cause much of the greenhouse emissions which cause climate change.
ALEC has also drafted model legislation which claims climate change may in fact be “beneficial.”
The model bill states that human activity “may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes” and that “a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation.”
Some observers have wryly noted that Google’s membership in ALEC made a mockery of its unofficial motto, “Don’t be evil.”