Car maker Ford has ended its relationship with the climate-denial lobbyist group ALEC, the Guardian reports, joining tech companies like Google, Facebook, eBay, and Yelp, as well as the energy companies like Shell and BP in distancing themselves from the Koch-funded network.
A company spokesman told the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy “we will not be participating in ALEC in 2016,” citing its “annual budget review.” CMD uncovered Ford’s financial ties to ALEC in November.
“Ford appeared to be very happy to quietly fund ALEC when its membership was secret, but now that the relationship has become public it has become a liability,” Nick Surgey, CMD’s director of research, told the Guardian.
The issue is that Ford wants consumers to believe that it prioritizes environmental sustainability, while ALEC aggressively pursues a legislative agenda that would limit environmental regulations on big businesses. From the Guardian:
Part of the group’s anti-green agenda was to agitate to make it more difficult for homeowners to install solar panels. Several of its model bills aim to block federal efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut back on emissions from energy creation under the Clean Power Plan.
In its model bill on research on climate change, Alec says that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere of the planet” and that such activity may lead to warming of the planetary temperature. But it goes on to suggest that “such activity may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes”.
Even more contentiously, the lobby group goes on to state that “a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation”.
No one knows how much the Kochs have given ALEC in total, but the amount likely exceeds $1 million—not including a half-million loaned to ALEC when the group was floundering. ALEC gave the Kochs its Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award, and Koch Industries has been one of the select members of ALEC’s corporate board for almost twenty years. The company’s top lobbyist was once ALEC’s chairman. As a result, the Kochs have shaped legislation touching every state in the country. Like ideological venture capitalists, the Kochs have used ALEC as a way to invest in radical ideas and fertilize them with tons of cash.
Take environmental protections. The Kochs have a penchant for paying their way out of serious violations and coming out ahead. Helped by Koch Industries’ lobbying efforts, one of the first measures George W. Bush signed into law as governor of Texas was an ALEC model bill giving corporations immunity from penalties if they tell regulators about their own violation of environmental rules. Dozens of other ALEC bills would limit environmental regulations or litigation in ways that would benefit Koch.
A spokesman for ALEC, Wilhelm Meierling, told the Guardian that Ford’s departure is offset by the introduction of 30 new private sector members: “It’s an exciting time to be at Alec, with private sector growth in a variety of sectors including renewable energy.”