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Shell Oil will drop its membership in ALEC, citing differences over climate change

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The washingtonBy Steven Mufson August 7, 2015

Shell Oil will not renew its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, citing differences with the controversial corporate lobbying group over the issue of climate change.

“ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own,” said Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Shell. “We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world.  As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with ALEC lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year.”

Founded in the 1970s, ALEC tries to connect corporate lobbyists and executives with hundreds of state legislators across the country over key pieces of legislation.

[Conservative group is tired of being accused of climate denial]

While a major target of environmental groups because of Shell’s efforts to drill in the Chukchi Sea off the Arctic coast of Alaska, company executives have long affirmed that climate change was real and important. For years it has used an internal price for carbon emissions to test the worthiness of new projects.

But ALEC has worked to roll back government efforts to push companies toward renewable energy sources, most notably requirements adopted in more than half of states seeking to force utilities to move away from fossil fuels.

“It’s simply untenable for companies to ask policymakers to adopt a carbon price while supporting groups that fight climate and clean energy policies and spread misinformation about climate science,” said Angela Anderson, director of the Union of Concerned Scientist’s Climate and Energy Program.

Molly Fuchs, a spokesman for ALEC, defended the group’s position on climate change. “ALEC is opposed to government mandates and subsidies of all types,” she said. “Climate change activists have conflated our opposition to the government picking winners and losers as climate change denial, and in turn, have pressured companies to part ways with the largest and most effective group of free-market legislators in the United States.”

Fuchs said that ALEC was seeking “to work on free market policies that create smart and limited regulation, decrease the cost of doing business and increase individual liberty.”

Shell isn’t the first company to drop out of ALEC: AOL, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, International Paper, Occidental Petroleum, News Corp., and SAP have all announced that they had or will cut ties to the group.

Other energy corporations, including Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and Peabody Coal, still support ALEC.

Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.

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