Environmental groups were outraged when Google announced in 2013 that it would fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a well known anti-global warming organization who's on a mission to kill renewable energy projects and introduce climate change denial literature in schools. Now, Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current Executive Chairman of Google, says that funding ALEC was a big mistake, since the group is spreading harmful lies.
“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,” Schmidt said. “And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying,” Schmidt said during an interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm show.
You can listen to the recorded show on Diane Rehm's website.
Don't fund Evil
We've yet to see an official stance from the company itself, but Schmidt went on to say during the interview that the “consensus within the company was that [the investment] was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future.”
Last year, environmentalists setup a campaign called “Don’t Fund Evil,” in mockery of Google's motto "Don't be Evil", which urged the company to sever ties with the think tank that among other things is working against the government’s clean-energy regulations. The campaign garnered 230,000 petition signatures.
The group, founded in 1973, says it has about 2,000 elected Democratic and Republican state legislators in its membership. Its non-partisan status as an educational organization allows it to give U.S. tax receipts to its donors. With nine separate committees made up of corporate representatives and politicians, the council says it can contribute to as many as 1,000 different policies or laws in a single year. And on average, about 20 per cent of these become laws or policies in areas such as international trade, the environment or health care, it says.
“For more than forty years, ALEC has helped lobbyists from some of the biggest polluters on the planet meet privately with U.S. lawmakers to discuss and model legislation,” said Nick Surgey, research director at U.S. watchdog Center for Media and Democracy.
“ALEC is a big reason the U.S. is so far behind in taking significant action to tackle climate change.”
Considering Google is heavily involved with its own renewable energy projects, having invested more than $1 billion into wind and solar projects that generate two gigawatts of power, it's inclusion in ALEC came as a huge surprise to everybody. Was Google unaware what ALEC was doing? Did the company honestly believed in the group's agenda, then pulled out at the first sign of lying, as Schmidt would have us believe? If this is the case, then whoever was responsible for the decision is downright ignorant or Schmidt is totally insulting our intelligence. I find it hard to believe that Google didn't spot the group was heavily involved with manipulating the public on climate matters, and others, for the past forty years no less! Also, ALEC isn't the only dubious far right organization Google has been funding.
Organizations that received "substantial" funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference), and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.
Microsoft left ALEC last month, joining large corporations like Coca-Cola, General Motors, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble who have all said they will leave the group.