Climate

Amid Climate Change Backlash, Even Oil Companies Are Dumping ALEC Now

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The fourth-largest U.S. oil and gas company revealed Friday that it is leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) amid widespread backlash over the free-market lobbying group’s efforts to undermine clean energy and promote climate change denial.

In a letter to its investment manager obtained by National Journal, Occidental Petroleum said it has “no plans” to continue supporting the group. The company said it determined that there are “other associations at the state-level that provide equal or greater value” than ALEC. It also cited concerns that it could be “presumed to share the positions” of other ALEC members, like the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce, on climate change and EPA regulations.

Occidental’s revelation comes just a few days after a number of tech companies announced they would abandon ALEC, an exodus spearheaded by Google chairman Eric Schmidt last week. Schmidt, in an appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, said the company’s decision to fund ALEC was a “mistake,” because the group spreads lies about global warming and “mak[es] the world a much worse place.”

“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 at the time. “And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.”

ALEC, with donors that include billionaires Charles and David Koch, has worked to kill renewable energy programs and teach climate denial in schools.

Occidential is the first oil company to publicly announce that it is leaving the conservative group. Occidental is based is Texas, but explores for and produces oil and gas throughout the world. According to Online Investor, it’s the 50th largest company in the U.S., with a market capital worth $77.2 billion. In the first quarter of 2014, Occidental made $1.39 billion in net profits, and $6.09 billion in revenue.

In its letter, Occidental said it would seek to clarify its positions on environmental regulations to distance its positions from ALEC and its associated groups. However, as National Journal notes, the company’s record of political donations show it supporting conservative candidates who largely oppose EPA action on climate change. In the 2014 election cycle, Occidental Petroleum’s PAC has largely backed Republican candidates for federal office since at least 1996, this year dedicating 93 percent of its total spending on federal candidates to Republicans.