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Oil giant breaks with conservative group

Oil giant BP said Monday it is leaving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial conservative group who has drawn criticism for its position on climate change.

“We continually assess our engagements with policy and advocacy organizations and based on our most recent assessment, we have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership in ALEC,” said a BP spokesman in a statement.

{mosads}An ALEC spokesman said that BP had told the group they were leaving in December — but didn’t rule out that the two organizations might work together in the future.

“ALEC looks forward to future partnership with BP,” he said in a statement.

The company’s departure was first reported by National Journal.

The group has been a target of scrutiny for some time.

ALEC is a consortium of corporations and state legislators that promotes pro-business and conservative policies. It often distributes model bills for use in state legislatures.

Its approach on climate change has garnered attention in the last year. Though the group does not deny climate change outright, some say its model bills suggest the group is uncertain about whether human actions have had a hand in changing the climate.

That position caused several technology companies to leave ALEC last year, starting with Google — which severed ties with the group in September after its chairman accused ALEC of “just literally lying” about climate change. Occidental Petroleum, an oil and natural gas company, also cut ties with the group around that time.

The group said that Google’s departure was based on “misinformation from climate activists who intentionally confuse free market policy perspectives for climate change denial.”

Liberal watchdogs have long said that the group engages in inappropriate lobbying for conservative positions. Frequent ALEC critics praised BP’s decision to leave in statements on Monday.

“BP made the right decision in joining the over 100 companies that have left ALEC, which misleads taxpayers and the IRS about its extensive lobbying activities,” said Arn Pearson, Vice President of Litigation at Common Cause.

Tags ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council BP climate Climate change Common Cause

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