Not-So-Smart ALEC: Is New CEO Lying Liar, or Merely Clueless Tool?

October 4, 2014


I’m in a generous mood, and giving her benefit of the doubt. Going with “clueless tool”.
More evidence that being a climate denier is rapidly becoming socially icky in the class of spousal abuse, kiddy porn, or being, well, say,  a holocaust denier.

Following a mass exodus of corporate contributors, and Google Executive Eric Schmidt’s declaration that they were “literally lying” about climate change – new CEO of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch funded science denial organization, goes on national radio and insists they know nothing, nothing, about climate denial. Or climate. Or anything. Why am I here again?

Crooks and Liars:

One week after updating its position on climate change, ALEC’s new CEO Lisa B. Nelson told (NPR radio hostess) Diane Rehm that ALEC doesn’t comment on climate change.

Lisa Nelson, the new CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, doesn’t know her organization’s position on climate change.

In a segment on WAMU’s Diane Rehm Show, ALEC’s Lisa Nelson claimed to not understand the science of climate change, and said, “We as an organization, specifically do not comment on climate change.”

Funny enough, just a week before, ALEC posted its “Position Statement on Renewables and Climate Change,” in response to heightened attention to its role in denying climate change.

The surge of attention is due to recent and very public departures by Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo and even Occidental Petroleum, specifically citing ALEC’s backwards work on climate change.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said people working for ALEC are “literally lying” about global warming, announcing that Google’s staff didn’t wish to continue supporting such work (after Google’s failed attempts to get ALEC to support clean energy).

Diane Rehm Show:


And you’re listening to “The Diane Rehm Show.” For those listeners who did not tune in that day, I want to read for you the statement made by Eric Schmidt who was the CEO of Google. He says, I think the — when asked why Google was going to drop their affiliation with ALEC, he said that ALEC was twisting science in the pursuit of its political goals at the state level. And here’s his quote. He says, “I think the consensus within the company” Google that is “was that Google’s affiliation with ALEC was some sort of mistake. And so we’re trying not to do that in the future.”


He says “The facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. The people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally lying.” Now, I understand, Lisa, that ALEC has come out and said, we don’t have a position on climate change. At the same time I gather there has been a move by ALEC to move against the creation of solar energy.

yadda yadda


What’s not reported in those stories is the fact that the Environmental Defense Fund was also in those conversations and participating in our conversations. So I go back to my original comments that what we really want to do is foster that dialogue between all sides with respect to climate change We, as an organization, specifically do not comment on climate change. What we have issue with is government mandates and subsidies that enable the government to kind of pick winners and losers as they look for energy solutions.
Be thankful for small things.
I sure wouldn’t want this loser picking winners.
FYI – ALEC Position Statement on Climate Change, with Translation, below:
Climate change is a historical phenomenon
Climate change is natural and climate has always changed. Who knows why? I’m not a scientist.
and the debate will continue on the significance of natural and anthropogenic contributions.
The real question is, are human beings responsible?  We read somewhere on the internet that Rush Limbaugh said it was warming on Mars.
So, like, who knows. We’re not scientists.
ALEC will continue to monitor the issue and support the use of sound science to guide policy,
We will continue to support the “he said, she said” false balance narrative that has been so effective in anti-science movements before, such as the prolonged fight by the tobacco industry to confuse the science of tobacco’s health effects.
but ALEC will also incorporate economic and political realism.
If our funders, the Koch Brothers, and the fossil fuel industry, tell us to jump, we salute and ask “how high.”
Unilateral efforts by the United States or regions within the United States will not significantly decrease carbon emissions globally, and international efforts to decrease emissions have proven politically infeasible and unenforceable.
China and India will never accept limits, and the US as the most powerful nation in the world and global leaders in technology can have no effect so, oh well, I guess your children are screwed, but we’ll be dead then. But who knows. We’re not scientists.
So have another drink.
Policymakers in most cases are not willing to inflict economic harm on their citizens with no real benefit.
Unless they can inflict harm on the poor and the powerless, preferably folks with dark skin who speak funny languages, so who cares,  or better yet, live in the future, when we’ll all be dead,  so double who cares, so have another drink.
ALEC discourages impractical visionary goals that ignore economic reality, and that will not be met without serious consequences for worldwide standard of living.
We encourage the practical goal of continuing to burn fossil fuels until the collapse of natural systems and civil society make it impossible to continue.  But again, we’re pretty sure we’ll be dead then, so does anyone really care? Certainly not us. We’re not crybabies, and  we’re certainly not scientists. So have another drink.

Since then, ALEC has issued statements maintaining that the group does not deny the science of human-caused climate change. However, model legislation put forth by the group has cast doubt on whether global warming is harmful, a direct refutation of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s statements that climate change increases the risk of “severe,” “pervasive,” and “dangerous” events. And in a presentation billed to be about climate science in July, ALEC members heard claims that there is “no need” to reduce carbon emissions; there is “no scientific consensus” on climate change; and that carbon dioxide increases have not caused sea level rise or polar ice melt.

ALEC also works to kill statewide programs that promote the use of renewable energy, and is pushing a bill that would require public schools to teach climate denial.

The fact that ALEC’s chief executive claims not to know the science of climate change while pushing these policies is drawing outrage from environmental groups who say Nelson should know better, given the breadth of scientific information available about climate change. Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club, said in a statement to ThinkProgress that Nelson’s statements were “disingenuous,” an excuse to continue pushing policies scientists know to be harmful.

“ALEC is claiming they don’t know the science on climate change while pushing legislation to teach climate denial in schools,” Brune said. “That’s like saying they don’t know whether smoking causes cancer while peddling cigarettes to kids.”

Toronto Star:

Scientists are exaggerating the climate change crisis.

There’s no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the benefits of warmer temperatures outweigh the costs.

Over-the-top environmental regulations are linked to such problems as suicide and drug abuse.

These aren’t the ramblings of a right-wing conspiracy theorist, but the opinions expressed at a midsummer retreat for U.S. state legislators held by a powerful U.S. think tank and sponsored by corporations as varied as AT&T and TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

Internal documents from this summer’s Dallas meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, leaked to a watchdog group, reveal several sessions casting doubt on the scientific evidence of climate change. They also reveal sessions focused on crafting policies that reduce rules for fossil fuel companies and create obstacles for the development of alternative forms of energy.

The meeting, hosted in Dallas from July 30 to Aug. 1, involved a mix of lobbyists, U.S. legislators and climate change contrarians, and was sponsored by more than 50 large corporations, including several that do business in Alberta’s oilsands.

One workshop had the goal of teaching politicians “how to think and talk about climate and energy issues” and provided them with guidance for fighting environmental policies and regulations.

PR Watch has more on the Dallas Conclave:

According to ALEC’s conference agenda, lobbyists instructed legislators how to “talk” and “think” about climate change on the first day of the meeting, clashing with ALEC’s recent insistence to the press that its operations are “completely legislator driven.

Legislators also received a briefing from a scientifically irrelevant climate change denial group, the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” (NIPCC), published by a fossil fuel front group that infamously compared climate advocates with “murderers, tyrants and madmen.”

In keeping with ALEC’s longtime denial of both the science and solutions to climate change, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, spoke about proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits on carbon pollution. That session was sponsored by the world’s largest publicly owned coal company, Peabody Energy, and the trade association for the coal industry, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), of which Peabody is a member.


Here and below from PR Watch – materials shown at last summer’s ALEC conference in Dallas.

Other agenda items include a presentation to legislators on the federal government regulating pollution from coal plants and a session on increasing the export of fracked gas from the U.S., likely a result of new ALEC member companies like Cheniere Energy, a liquid natural gas export company.

All of this was set to prepare lobbyists and legislators to sit down, during ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, to vote together on a new proposed ALEC “model” bill in opposition to the EPA limiting carbon from coal plants. Members of this task force have declared “guerrilla warfare” on the EPA’s newly proposed rule.




13 Responses to “Not-So-Smart ALEC: Is New CEO Lying Liar, or Merely Clueless Tool?”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    An excellent post, full of damning info about ALEC (entertaining too—the “translation” is great). I have had a visceral dislike for ALEC for many years because of the evil they do, and it makes me feel good to see that they are finally starting to get their just desserts. All those phone calls and emails and petitions to ALEC sponsors seem to be paying off. I would urge all who get such requests to act on them and pass them on.—-apparently, when the numbers rise into the 100’s of thousands, companies listen.

    And not to be too vulgar, but the new CEO is just another lying POS that has floated to the top of the toilet bowl that is ALEC and needs to be flushed. Actually, ALEC has perhaps done more damage at the state legislature level on issues like voting rights, education, and gerrymandering than on climate change—-we will need to keep flushing there for many years.

  2. To show the idiocy of teaching creation as alternative for evolution, people invented the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    If ALEC continues pushing the teaching of climate change denial, maybe we should make up some funny theory about climate change and demand that that will be given equal weight in schools.

    • skeptictmac57 Says:

      Ahhh,but you must realize the difference is that christians pushing creationism actually want you to believe in creationism,whereas ALEC would actually welcome ANY competing theories to the consensus,even if it contradicts everything that they claim is true.
      The endgame is doubt and confusion,not edification.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I am seriously thinking of converting to Pastafarianism. I am getting tired of covering my headgear with tinfoil, and just wearing a colander seems much easier. Long live the FSM!

    • people invented the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

      Ramen to that!

      maybe we should make up some funny theory about climate change and demand that that will be given equal weight in schools.

      Actually, TCoTFSM was formed to highlight the relationship of climate change to the global decrease in pirates.

      I remember when Pastafarianism (which didn’t have that name yet) hit Slashdot.  It fit right in and took off like a rocket.

  3. You wonder how stupid the Koch Bros. actually are (at least when it comes to issues outside of their narrow base of work). This is what happens when you surround yourself with “yes” people who tell you how great your ideas are, and you live in your own echo chamber.

    Maybe this is a good thing. If they suddenly got smart, they could be a lot more dangerous. Now they can become the faces of evil.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Stupid is as stupid does, said Forrest Gump. With the Kochs, it’s also “Money is as money does”, and they’ve gotten a lot for their money so far. Whats half a billion when you’ve got nearly a hundred billion to throw around?

      As it becomes more apparent to all that they are in fact the faces of evil and are dangerous, they will have to spend more to stay even. If we can overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon, we can make it hard for them to buy the politicians that are part of their echo chamber.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      There are on-line campaigns starting (petitions and emails) to put the same kind of pressure on the same companies as was done with ALEC. Daily KOS, Sumofus, Forecastthefacts-Disrupt Denial, and others.

      The thrust is to get the companies to stop supporting climate deniers in Congress. Some petitions have 10’s of thousands of signatures already. We shall see if this works as well as the ALEC campaign. I suspect not as well or as fast, because it’s a different ball game.

    • I’ve been following this issue for years now, and think I can say something useful here…

      Microsoft kept out of politics until the 2000 election, when it donated heavily to the campaign of George Bush. And after he was elected, the antitrust lawsuit of the Clinton years magically went away. Ever since then, they never looked back – Microsoft has been a major funder of the Republican Party.

      Microsoft has been at war with Google for a decade, because Google has been a big financial supporter of Linux (Google’s servers all run on it). Apple jumped into the battle a little later, after they realized that Android OS was a serious competitor to iOS (Android is a customized version of Linux).

      It’s crystal clear why Google funded ALEC and other right-wing nutter groups in the first place: because Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, Apple) contributed to the campaigns of right-wing House & Senate politicians to persuade them to launch “investigations” into “Google’s monopoly.” Lots of anti-trust rules were being drawn up against Google as a result – it all magically went away when Google paid the bribe money (also known as “campaign contributions”) to Republicans.

      America has the best politicians that money can buy.

  4. […] I'm in a generous mood, and giving her benefit of the doubt. Going with "clueless tool". More evidence that being a climate denier is rapidly becoming socially icky in the class of spousal abuse, k…  […]

  5. I see nothing… I know nothing..

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