The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lost another high-profile member Monday, when oil and gas mega-company BP announced it would no longer be part of the largely Koch-funded, conservative organization.
BP did not point to any particular issues behind its defection. In recent years ALEC, whose members include Republican politicians as well as businesses, has been behind “model legislation” to limit renewable energy in states. The group has also condemned the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, and fought against the Affordable Care Act.
“We continually assess our engagements with policy and advocacy organizations, and based on our most recent assessment, we have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership in ALEC,” a BP spokesman told ThinkProgress.
The Union of Concerned Scientists applauded the move, saying it had asked BP to leave ALEC last fall.
“BP was right to leave ALEC, an important decision consistent with the company’s public acceptance of the scientific consensus on climate change,” said Peter Frumhoff, UCS’s director of science and policy. “We are gratified that they have listened and that a growing number of people and groups are calling on fossil fuel companies to end their support for ALEC.”
UCS said Shell should also leave ALEC. Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips have both already cut ties with the group. In a proxy statement for Occidental’s annual stockholders meeting before the decision, Needcor Foundation wrote, “We believe this partnership [with ALEC] may bring significant reputational and business risk to the company.”
It’s unknown whether BP broke with ALEC specifically over the group’s views on climate change. However, it has become increasingly unpopular for companies to associate with climate deniers. After pressure from environmental activists, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Yelp left ALEC last year, citing differences on climate change policy.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Diane Rehm his company’s decision to fund ALEC was a “mistake.”
“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.”
At the time, ALEC said Google’s decision was the result of “public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”
BP’s annual strategic report notes that “BP believes that climate change is an important long-term issue that justifies global action.”
In 2012, dozens of companies, including household names such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Walmart, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, and MillerCoors, cut ties with ALEC in the wake of the group’s support for voter ID and “Stand Your Ground” gun laws.