ALEC Conference Funding Dominated by Big Polluters

by Connor Gibson

July 24, 2015

Dirty energy companies continue to dominate the funding and agenda of ALEC's annual conference. Here's what it looked like in 2015.

Scott Walker ALEC

ALEC alum and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is campaigning on a promise to destroy the EPA if elected president in 2016. He made an appearance at ALEC's 2015 annual meeting in San Diego. Photo via Wikimedia.

This article was originally published by Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy and Connor Gibson of Greenpeace at PR Watch

At the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2015 annual meeting in San Diego, California, dirty energy companies and their supporters—including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Duke Energy—continue to dominate the funding of activities according to a list of conference sponsors obtained jointly by the Center for Media and Democracy and Greenpeace.

At the top of the agenda, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke to ALEC delegates over breakfast on Thursday. Walker is now campaigning on a promise to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if elected President in 2016, a plan which was earlier debated by ALEC at its December 2014 conference and is in line with ALEC’s long-term legislative agenda.

At ALEC conferences and meetings, rhetoric against the EPA—and in particular the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution—is frequently extreme.

ALEC sessions have repeatedly featured overt denial of climate change science. During recent ALEC conferences, legislators have been called upon to engage in “guerrilla warfare” against the EPA and at another session instructed to bring about a “political tsunami” to block pollution controls.

After Google chairman Eric Schmidt accused ALEC of “literally lying” about climate change on NPR in September 2014, a fleet of companies ditched ALEC, from oil giants like BP and Occidental Petroleum to software and tech firms like Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, and SAP—the company which chaired ALEC’s corporate board.

Opposing Action on Climate Change

On the agenda during the San Diego closed-door meeting of the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force are numerous new attempts to undermine efforts to tackle climate change.

The proposed ALEC model “Environmental Impact Litigation Act,” based on a law passed in North Dakota in 2015, would allow coal, oil, and gas companies to pay into a fund for the state to sue against a number of key federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act. This law, if passed, could be used to allow coal companies to fund state lawsuits against the Clean Power Plan.

Of the 54 identified corporate sponsors, twenty-two are energy related firms, their front groups, or firms representing energy interests. Most notable among the sponsors is ExxonMobil, which just last week told the Guardian that it isn’t sponsoring climate change denial groups, including ALEC specifically. ExxonMobil is among the top sponsors of ALEC’s 2015 annual meeting, and Exxon’s Cynthia Bergman remains on ALEC’s corporate board.

Below are financial underwriters of ALEC’s meeting, taking place at one of the largest resorts on the West Coast, along with the rates from another document obtained by CMD, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

The corporations and amounts listed here are just part of the funding picture for ALEC.

These amounts do not include other money corporations pay ALEC in membership fees, or additional fees to participate on ALEC task forces, for which lobbyists receive a seat and a vote alongside legislators in setting the ALEC agenda. It also does not include money spent by corporate lobbyists at special parties for lawmakers or state delegations at some of the most expensive restaurants in San Diego, nor money spent by some of the corporations to fund the trips for state lawmakers to San Diego for what ALEC has dubbed “scholarships.”

ALEC’s 2015 Annual Meeting Sponsors

Dirty energy interests and front groups in bold

*Asterisks indicate membership on ALEC’s corporate board of directors

President’s Level – $100,000

  • Reynolds American Inc (RAI–tobacco company)

Chair’s Level – $50,000

  • American Electric Power (AEP)
  • AT&T*
  • Balanced Energy for Texas
  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)
  • Cigar Association of America
  • An Inquiry into The Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States* (new book by Travis Brown & ALEC board member Stephen Moore, ALEC advisor Art Laffer, and Missouri political financier Rex Sinquefield)
  • DentaQuest
  • Luminant (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
  • PhRMA*
  • State Policy Network (SPN)
  • Citizens for Self-Governance

Vice Chair’s Level – $20,000

  • Altria (Phillip Morris tobacco parent company)*
  • American Bail Coalition*
  • Diageo*
  • Encore Capital Group (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
  • ExxonMobil*
  • Guarantee Trust Life (GTL)*
  • Collaborative for Student Success
  • Texas Automobile Dealers Association (TADA)
  • Takeda
  • UPS*

Director’s Level – $10,000

  • Astellas Pharma
  • Breitling Energy
  • CenterPoint Energy
  • Chevron
  • Crown Packaging
  • Duke Energy
  • Excelsior College
  • K12*
  • Oncor (subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings)*
  • Pfizer
  • Ryan (tax services company)
  • Time Warner Cable

Trustee’s Level – $5,000

  • Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR)
  • Capelo Law Firm
  • Devon Energy
  • FedEx
  • The Graydon Group LLC
  • Bright House Media Strategies
  • Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Renovate America
  • Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
  • Tenaska Capital Management
  • Texas Alliance of Energy Producers
  • Texas Cable Association
  • Texas Medical Association
  • Texas Association of Builders
  • Texas Business Roundtable
  • Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA)
  • Texans for Lawsuit Reform
  • The Schlueter Group
  • Texas Strategy Group
  • Texas Star Alliance Energy Solutions

For the full page of corporate logos sponsoring the ALEC conference see here.

Connor Gibson

By Connor Gibson

Connor Gibson does research for Greenpeace's Investigations team. He focuses on polluting industries, their front groups and PR operatives, particularly focusing on the Koch Brothers.

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