Microsoft aims to be greener and drops ALEC membership

The tech giant pulls out of the conservative lobbying group that is known to have pushed legislation to block renewable energy development.

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Microsoft's Chicago data center. Microsoft

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it's cutting ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative public-policy lobbying group. It appears this decision was made due to ALEC's lobbing efforts to block the development of renewable energy.

Microsoft had previously been a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force. In a statement, the company said it has halted all participation in this group.

"In 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council's Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC," the company said. "With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC...we are no longer members of ALEC and do not provide the organization with financial support of any kind."

Microsoft's decision comes on the heels of other major corporations dropping membership with ALEC, including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates stopped financially supporting ALEC in 2012.

According to advocacy organization Common Cause, all of these companies pulled membership with ALEC after it was revealed in 2011 that the lobbying group had secretly pushed legislation for restrictive voter ID requirements, anti-union measures, and proposals to block renewable energy development.

Environmental organization Greenpeace lauded Microsoft for ending its relationship with ALEC.

"Microsoft deserves praise for living up to its sustainability values by ending its membership in ALEC, an organization which has attacked clean energy and climate policies in nearly all 50 states," Greenpeace senior IT policy analyst Gary Cook said in a statement emailed to CNET. "Microsoft has demonstrated a commitment in recent years to clean energy and climate action by introducing an internal carbon fee and purchasing large amounts of wind energy to power two of its data centers."

While Microsoft has dropped its membership with ALEC, many of it tech cohorts still belong to the group, including Google, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and Yelp.

"Some of these companies have made great clean energy strides in their own operations, but have rationalized their ALEC membership with the excuse that it is a crucial vehicle for their other political priorities," Cook said. "Technology companies can advocate for their political agenda without loaning their credibility to organizations that undermine their environmental values at every turn."

 

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