Facebook Plans to Cut Ties With ALEC

Just one day after Google announced it was cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), fellow tech giant Facebook announced that they are "not likely" to renew their ALEC membership next year.

“We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now,” a Facebook representative wrote in a September 23 e-mail to the San Francisco Chronicle. “While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.”

A day earlier, Google chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR's Diane Rehm that its membership in ALEC "was some sort of mistake" and that the corporate bill mill was "literally lying" about climate change. The company later confirmed that it was not renewing its membership.

Both Google and Facebook have made public commitments to being environmentally responsible companies, which led many to wonder why they were bankrolling a group like ALEC, whose conferences have included presentations with titles like "Warming Up to Climate Change: the Many Benefits of Increased CO2." ALEC has been key in promoting the repeal of Renewable Portfolio Standards and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and at its meeting last December, called on state legislators to engage in "Guerrilla Warfare" against the Environmental Protection Agency.

At ALEC's most recent meeting in Dallas, a lobbyist for Google, Facebook, and Yahoo touted the benefits of renewable energy at the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force -- and was quickly shot down by lobbyists for Koch Industries, Peabody Energy and others, according to a report for The Progressive by Wisconsin Representative Chris Taylor.

Facebook also previously funded the State Policy Network, a network of 64 state-based "mini-Heritage Foundations" that have also opposed climate change regulation and pushed other corporate-friendly policies. SPN think tanks also push ALEC's agenda in the states, including its attack on renewable energy. It is not known whether Facebook still funds SPN.

With Facebook's departure, over 82 corporations have publicly left ALEC since the Center for Media and Democracy launched ALECexposed in 2011.