eBay finally cuts ties with ultraconservative ALEC
It's about time.
Following in the footsteps of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and practically every other major tech firm that claims to care about the environment, eBay has finally announced it will not renew its membership with the ultraconservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
"After our annual review of eBay Inc's memberships in trade associations and third party organizations we've decided not to renew our membership with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)," an eBay spokesperson told Reuters.
While ALEC supports a host of controversial right-wing policies, like a national "Stand Your Ground" law and Voter ID laws that may disenfranchise minorities, the issue that most alienated its partners in tech is climate change. ALEC claims it does not deny the existence of climate change, and yet it has crafted model legislation to push climate change denial in schools despite an overwhelming scientific consensus among experts that it's real and that humans are causing it.
eBay's withdrawal of support comes not a moment too soon for the company. With Republicans taking over Congress, along with a number of state legislatures, ALEC has ramped up its efforts to dismantle -- or at the very least, declaw -- the Environmental Protection Agency, making it impossible for the federal government to enforce President Obama's new limitations on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel plants. The group has also crafted new legislative proposals that would increase offshore drilling and weaken protections for endangered species -- all under the pretext that big government is bad, and therefore it should be up to states to decide what's best for their local economy.
The trouble with that argument is, if West Virginia opts out of limitations on CO2 emissions, it won't just affect West Virginians. It will affect the entire country. It will affect the entire world. After all, how can the US expect other superpowers to establish and hold themselves to emissions standards if Americans refuse to follow our own rules?
To be clear, far right Republicans will attempt to bring decades of environmental progress to ruin regardless of whether eBay remained a member of ALEC. It only costs companies like eBay $5,000 a year to be affiliated with ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force, and so eBay's withdrawal won't do much to cripple the organization. Nevertheless, this is an important symbolic victory, proving that Silicon Valley corporations are capable -- at least on occasion -- of standing by the ideals they trumpet.
As for eBay, it had no other option but to part company with ALEC. As I've argued in the past, ALEC offers no significant ascertainable benefit to eBay's business. Moreover, eBay CEO John Donahoe has referred to his company as a "green leader" -- a laughable boast for any company with ties to such an aggressively anti-environment group. And while the outrage against eBay's ALEC connections was mostly felt among environmental activists and in some of tech's more progressive communities, now that Republicans control Congress the average consumer may be hearing more about ALEC in the coming months, and its often disturbing political stances.