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.
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 Fuhs, 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., Overstock.com 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.