Oil company leaves ALEC over climate change

oil pipeline photo
CC BY 2.0 rcbodden

When Google left ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) and accused it of lying about climate change, I was pleased but not exactly surprised. After all, the tech giant is known for massive investments in renewable energy.

Google's departure is just one among many tech firms. Yelp and Yahoo recently quit ALEC too, as had Microsoft before them. While these giants may have had other reasons for joining the rightwing lobby group (presumably issues such as net neutrality or corporate tax policy), it's becoming increasingly clear that taking an explicitly anti-science, anti-renewables position is not compatible with projecting an image of corporate leadership in the tech world.

But what about oil companies? Surely companies which make most of their money from carbon emitting fuels would still have a deep interest in aligning themselves with groups which are aiming to hold back renewables and delay action on climate change. But perhaps not.

The National Journal reports that Occidental Petroleum is also parting ways with ALEC, and while an ALEC spokesperson attempted to downplay any connection with the group's climate stance, a letter sent to investors is very, very clear that investor concern over links to anti-renewables groups was a part of the decision making process:

"Additionally, we discussed your concern that as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, Occidental could be presumed to share the positions taken by those organizations on climate change and EPA regulations."

Sure, we know that the Rockefellas are pulling some of their money out of fossil fuels, but this is another welcome sign that even fossil fuel industries are beginning to see where the future is going.

Of course, not supporting ALEC is not the same as getting behind a 100% clean energy future. Occidental is a big producer of natural gas, as well as oil, and such moves may be part of positioning natural gas as a key part of any climate solution. (See John Laumer's comments on my piece about coal exec Robert Murray's recent outbursts for some important context on this debate.) Still, the weaker the explicitly anti-renewables movement becomes, the happier I get.

Oil company leaves ALEC over climate change
Google leaving the anti-climate action lobby group is one thing. Occidental Petroleum is quite another.

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