DeSmog

Disrupt Denial: After Leaving ALEC, Google Still Funding Evil

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Last week, one tech giant after the next cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), creating a mass exodus from the anti-government front group that routinely drafts legislation to bolster the fossil fuel industry and inhibit climate action and clean energy development.

While the withdrawal of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others from ALEC’s vast pool of corporate funders was widely celebrated by climate campaigners, a recent report released by Forecast the Facts and SumOfUS shows how Google – and many others who claim to do good by climate – are still funding climate denial in politics. 

The report, called Disrupt Denial: How big business is funding climate change denial in the 113th Congress, reveals how companies like Google, Ford, Microsoft, UPS, and eBay continue to support Senators and Representatives in the House who deny the very science of climate change.

Take Google. Though the company’s Chairman Eric Schmidt made great waves with his claim on the Diane Rehm show that ALEC are “literally lying” about climate change, and that Google “should not be aligned with such people,” the Disrupt Denial report shows that Google has contributed $699,195 to climate deniers in Congress from 2008 to 2014.

That’s the total, according to Federal Election Committee data, that Google donated to campaigns of the “Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus,” the 163 elected representatives that deny the basic tenets of climate science, or deny climate change outright, as compiled by CAP Action.

What other companies are supporting Congress’s climate deniers? Many come at no surprise: Koch Industries gave over $3 million; Exxon Mobil just over $2 million over that same seven year span.

Credit: #DisruptDenial

Even more troubling are those companies like Google, who make loud public claims about their climate commitments, only to undermine the sentiments with these considerable funds to those who reflexively block all legislative action on climate change.

Credit: #DisruptDenial

Microsoft talks a big game on climate, withdrawing from ALEC back in July citing environmental and climate concerns. The company publicly goes so far as to call for government action on carbon pollution in it’s corporate “Climate Change Policy Statement,” which claims “an important role for governments to provide the frameworks that spur the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Yet, Microsoft has funded climate deniers in Congress by over $1 million since 2008. 

The “granddaddy of climate science denier funders,” according to the report, is AT&T. Despite a  “Climate and Carbon Emissions Policy” that states that the company is “committed to operating in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner …[and] to working with our suppliers to limit environmental impacts and greenhouse gas emissions in our supply chain,” the company has contributed nearly $3.3 million to the campaigns of deniers in Congress. Amazingly, that’s even more than Koch and Exxon Mobil. 

One of the most surprising findings of Disrupt Denial is that a full 90% of donations to the climate denier caucus come from companies outside of the oil and gas industry. Though many companies would claim that these campaign contributions don’t indicate an agreement with the various representatives’ denial of climate change, the simple truth is that these funds are directly contributing to Congressional inaction on climate change. It’s time that companies better align their political contributions with their public positions on climate change. 

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Ben Jervey is a Senior Fellow for DeSmog and directs the KochvsClean.com project. He is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, specializing in climate change and energy systems and policy. Ben is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He has also contributed regularly to National Geographic News, Grist, and OnEarth Magazine. He has published three books—on eco-friendly living in New York City, an Energy 101 primer, and, most recently, “The Electric Battery: Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future.” He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and earned a Master’s in Energy Regulation and Law at Vermont Law School. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

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