SAN FRANCISCO -- Several dozen people gathered at Google’s headquarters on Tuesday to protest the company's membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group known to be one of the most influential climate change deniers.
Approximately 40 people demonstrated in front of the search giant's Mountain View, Calif. office in a protest spearheaded by the environmental groups Forecast the Facts, Courage Campaign and SierraRise. The protesters demanded that Google be more transparent regarding where it spends shareholders' money and that the company cut ties with ALEC, campaign director Brant Olson told The Huffington Post.
Olson said it is unknown how invested the company is beyond just paying membership dues, which range from $7,000 to $25,000 and allow members to sit on task forces where they can discuss potential legislation with state lawmakers. The company, along with Facebook, Yelp and AOL, which owns The Huffington Post, sat on the organization’s communications and technology task force in 2013.
ALEC did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment.
“Google has been so vocal about being a different kind of company and has been so vocal about high ethical standards, and most employees are on the side of clean energy,” Olson said. “So we’re here to hold them accountable and tell them to put their money where their mouth is.”
One model bill drafted by ALEC, the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act, which incorporates climate change denial into school curriculums, has been introduced and passed in various forms in Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee.
Google, which uses the motto “Don’t be evil,” has been widely recognized for participating in the fight against climate pollution. The company has used its Google Earth technology to create a tool showing the effects of climate change. Its ALEC membership is not meant to mitigate dedication to that cause, Google said in a statement to HuffPost.
"Technology issues are a big part of policy debates and it's important that we are part of that discussion -- helping policymakers understand our business and the work we do to keep the Internet open and to encourage economic opportunity,” a Google spokesperson said in an email. “We support groups across the political spectrum but of course don't agree with them on 100 percent of issues."
Still, the climate denial controversy has contributed to the group losing nearly 400 state legislators and more than 60 corporations as members in the last two years. Google’s participation in such political games, Olson said, violates the corporate morality they put forward.
“Supporting these types of groups is not consistent with Google’s values or modern values in general,” he said. “The science is in: climate change is a fact.”