GM drops Heartland, Coke and Pepsi drop ALEC

by Connor Gibson

April 5, 2012

UPDATE: After dropping support for ALEC, Pepsi distances itself from the Heartland Institute’s climate denial.

In the last week, we have seen some of America’s most recognizable corporate brands sever their ties to ideological front groups that demonize inconvenient science and peddle policies that are generally bad for people.

It started last Friday, when a campaign initiated by Forecast the Facts, a group focused on promoting scientifically accurate information about global warming, succeeded in convincing General Motors to stop financing the Heartland Institute. Heartland has played a central role in coordinating public relations campaigns to convince Americans that global warming is a non-issue, financed by large companies and a handful of wealthy ideologues. Internal documents from the Heartland Institute were leaked to the world on Valentine’s Day, prompting an explosion of public scrutiny over their campaigns to influence how climate change is portrayed in K-12 classroom science lessons. Greenpeace continues to investigate the Heartland Institute leaked documents and question those listed in Heartand’s budget for climate denial projects.

American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC Heartland Institute climate change global warmingYesterday’s announcement was that soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are both pulling their membership from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive lobbying group that crafts corporate bills to push through state legislatures. The announcement from Coke came just hours after Color of Change called on the company to drop ALEC over its controversial voter ID model laws. Reporters have noted that ALEC’s voter suppression bills and the recent “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, which has been tied to the killing of Trayvon Martin and introduced to other states through ALEC, played a role in Coke’s decision to discontinue its membership, as well as ALEC’s work running counter to Coke’s positions on climate and sustainability, as well as Pepsi’s.

As I wrote last week, ALEC has worked in cooperation with the Heartland Institute to water down climate science in schools, in addition to numerous other legislative tactics at the state level to deny global warming and promote the consumption of fossil fuels.

While Coke-with-a-“C” has dumped ALEC, Koch-with-a-“K” has not. Nor has ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, or a fleet of other dirty energy Goliaths whose immoral political interference appears to be driven by an insatiable pursuit of profit.

Jenga: party classic and political analogy.

Much more daylight needs to be shined upon ALEC, Heartland and all of the other groups that are cogs in the engine of climate science denial, whose broader agendas play Jenga with our democracy: pulling support from the lower levels and stacking them on top of the pile where it’s not needed.

When the Jenga stack falls, we laugh. When democracy becomes too top heavy, the party is over.

Thus, political participation and healthy skepticism remain crucial obligations for citizens who want their basic rights protected, their policies informed by pertinent facts rather than crude profit motives, and enough space from government and corporations to live their lives.

Greenpeace will continue to expose those who are paid to do otherwise.See PolluterWatch for Greenpeace’s Investigation of the Heartland Institute Leaked Documents.

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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