Climate Denial Ain’t Slick: BP Dumps ALEC

by Connor Gibson

March 24, 2015

South Pass, Louisiana (USA). May 17th, 2010. Greenpeace oil spill specialist Paul Horsman and activist Lauren Valle hold a BP sign up in a mass of oil sludge from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead as it reaches the coast of Louisiana in the South Pass area near the mouth of the Mississippi River on May 17, 2010. The BP leased oil platform exploded April 20 and sank after burning, leaking an estimate of more than 210,000 gallons of crude oil per day from the broken pipeline to the sea. Eleven workers are missing, presumed dead. Photo by Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

©Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

It was one thing when Google chairman Eric Schmidt told the world that Google was leaving a lobbying group called ALEC for “literally lying” about climate change. It’s another for one of the world’s fourth largest oil companies to follow suit. BP just left ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which teaches state politicians to deny climate change and deploys them to fight against climate policies at the state level.

BP is the second large oil company to ditch ALEC in recent months, after Occidental Petroleum. These companies weren’t as explicit as Google in clarifying exactly why they left ALEC, but it was generally understood that ALEC’s denial of climate science is unacceptable for Google, Yelp, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, SAP, and even major industrial polluters like BP, Occidental, International Paper and Emerson Electric.

This is a big blow to ALEC, who is increasingly relying on the most shameless companies to drive demand for ALEC’s state-level lobbying, like Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, Shell Oil, and ExxonMobil. In the game of climate denial chicken, apparently BP couldn’t handle what Koch and Peabody have to offer. Neither could ALEC’s national chairman.

This step to clean up BP’s image won’t clean their operations. It indicates how ALEC’s misinformation seminars for legislators and model policies against any potential solution to climate change are becoming political hazards. Ironically, ALEC’s hardline anti-climate stances over the years contradict ALEC’s “free markets” mission statement, which can be awkward for ALEC staff.

And who could blame BP on this one? Even ALEC’s corporate chairman quit, after his company SAP America condemned ALEC’s denial of climate change, promotion of racist voter ID laws and Stand Your Ground gun laws linked to increased homicide rates.

BP has previously ended its participation in other climate denial public relations like the Global Climate Coalition, and even spent a time re-branding from “British Petroleum” to “Beyond Petroleum,” but BP kept oil at the core of its business and has since ditched its wind power investments and spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, which remains heavily polluted.

BP is the 102nd company in recent years to abandon ALEC’s ranks.

Oil In South Pass Area of Louisiana Gulf Coast

Connor Gibson

By Connor Gibson

Connor Gibson is a former member of Greenpeace's Investigations team. He focused on polluting industries, their front groups, and PR operatives, particularly on the Koch Brothers.

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