Shell to leave ALEC over climate change stance

Royal Dutch Shell said Friday that it will end its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a state-level policy group, over its position on climate change.

“ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own,” Shell said in a statement Friday. “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.”

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Shell has previously acknowledged the existence of climate change and called for policy changes to confront it. In its statement, Shell said, “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."

ALEC, though, has taken heat for pushing state policies against renewable fuels and questioning the science behind climate change.

In a statement, ALEC spokeswoman Molly Fuhs said the group's opposition to "government mandates and subsidies of all types" has been misinterpreted by its opponents.

"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," she said.

"ALEC continues to grow rapidly because the American people want less government, less regulation and more opportunity to govern themselves. We look forward to Shell returning to our effective, deliberative exchange in the future."

Shell has been pressured to leave the group for a while. 

The Union of Concerned Scientists launched a campaign last fall to encourage the oil giant to cut ties with ALEC, arguing its legislative agenda was out of line with Shell’s position on climate change. Earlier in 2014, Shell shareholders asked company executives to stop funding ALEC.

Green groups and progressive organizations have worked to make an environment-focused case against ALEC, something the group has pushed back against.

Even so, Shell is the just latest company to leave the organization. Many major corporations have let their memberships lapse, with some — including Microsoft and Google — blaming the group’s climate change posturing as the reason why. 

“While we engage with a number of organizations on selected, and often complex, energy topics, we don’t always agree on every position adopted by these organizations,” Shell said.

—This post was updated at 1:16 p.m.