Google Quits ALEC, Says Link With Climate Skeptics Wrong

Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt
Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt said the world’s biggest Internet search company made a mistake in funding a political group that opposes U.S. action on climate change.. Photographer: Antonio Heredia/Bloomberg

Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt said the world’s biggest Internet search company made a mistake in funding a political group that opposes U.S. action on climate change.

Schmidt said Google paid the American Legislative Exchange Council as part of a lobbying campaign on an unrelated issue. Without elaborating on Google’s relationship with the group, Schmidt said facts about global warming aren’t in dispute.

“The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” Schmidt said on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” yesterday. “We should not be aligned with such people. They are just literally lying.”

Google confirmed in a statement yesterday that it won’t renew its ALEC membership at the end of the year.

The Mountain View, California-based company and others are under mounting pressure from organizations that back government policies to combat climate change to abandon the Council, which says it supports free-market policies, because of its approach to environmental issues.

Microsoft Corp. has withdrawn from ALEC, saying affiliating with group “which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy was incongruous,” according to a report in Bloomberg BNA last month.

ALEC develops model legislation for state legislatures. It was behind Florida’s so-called Stand-Your-Ground law that drew scrutiny after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer who later was acquitted of murder. It has also pushed to repeal state mandates for renewable energy use.

‘Public Pressure’

The group has written model legislation calling for an interstate research council to study possible beneficial effects of climate change and to examine how regulations capping carbon may hurt the economy.

“It is unfortunate to learn Google has ended its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a result of public pressure from left-leaning individuals and organizations who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial,” Lisa Nelson, ALEC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Bill Meierling, the ALEC senior director of public affairs, said Google joined ALEC in August 2011 and was active in a communications and technology task force the group created to discuss broadband, privacy and e-commerce issues. The company paid ALEC about $10,000 a year.

Meierling disputed Schmidt’s suggestion that the group denies human activity is a cause of climate change. But he said ALEC has “significant concerns” rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would hurt the economy.

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