Following a mass exodus of leading technology companies, Occidental Petroleum Corporation has announced that it will be leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
A partnership between the public and private sectors, ALEC has made it its mission to “develop policies and programs that effectively promote the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty.” Every year, its members craft about 1,000 model legislation bills, 20 percent of which go on to become laws.
The organization has also been hit with claims of climate change denial, or at the very least promoting skepticism in order to champion fossil fuels over renewable investments. This explains why Google’s executive chairman recently called ALEC out for “just literally lying” about climate change, but it does not quite explain why the fourth largest oil and gas company in America would follow suit.
Yet it has. In a letter to Walden Asset Management dated September 26, Linda S. Peterson, on behalf of Occidental, writes,
“Occidental’s state lobbyists met last month and one of the issues they discussed was whether there was any interest in continuing to support ALEC. They concluded that there are other associations at the state-level that provide equal or greater value. Accordingly, there are no plants to continue Occidental’s membership in, or make further payments to, ALEC.”
Further, Peterson writes that Occidental shared Walden’s concern that, as members of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (both against climate change action), it could be “presumed to share the positions taken by those organizations on climate change and EPA regulations.”
If Occidental is concerned that it could be perceived to share positions of organizations like ALEC, the corporation is indeed distancing itself from climate change denial.
Jay Riestenberg, a research analyst with Common Cause, an anti-ALEC group, was pleased by the news. “It says something that oil companies are leaving now,” he said. “They just don’t see it as worth it anymore.”
In a public statement, ALEC dismissed connections between Occidental’s departure and its climate change position:
“Private-sector members join or fund organizations for a variety of reasons. It is incorrect to assume that a company left ALEC as a result of the current misinformation campaign rather than for myriad other reasons including, but not limited to, changing government-relations strategies or having achieved their goal.”