The University of Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University have withdrawn from an energy industry lobbying group opposing Gov. Kate Brown’s climate change agenda, two days after The Oregonian disclosed the relationship.
The nonprofit Alliance of Western Energy Consumers still counts as members companies including Microsoft and Intel, which have taken prominent public stands on the need to address climate change.
A University of Oregon spokeswoman said UO President Michael Schill “has directed that the University of Oregon withdraw its membership in AWEC on grounds that it does not match our community values with regard to climate change or the institutional goals outlined in the recently updated Climate Action Plan.
The withdrawal from AWEC is effective as of May 13.”
A spokeswoman for OHSU said the group had provided useful technical assistance and market analysis for two years, informing the university’s energy budget forecasting.
“Regrettably, AWEC’s information-gathering process can no longer be separated from its advocacy efforts; consequently, OHSU is ending our membership in the alliance, effective immediately,” the spokeswoman said. “AWEC has not and does not represent OHSU. OHSU has not and does not engage the alliance on public policy positioning or advocacy at any level of government.”
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company was reviewing its membership.
Both universities have drawn faculty criticism for their participation in the alliance, a group that also advocates on behalf of industrial utility ratepayers.
Hundreds of pages of internal documents, obtained by the Climate Investigations Center, showed that UO administrators were aware of the energy group’s opposition to Brown’s climate plan and knew it would be controversial.
The alliance has been lobbying to kill the governor’s climate change agenda, opposing a suite of bills including the governor’s high-profile effort to create a cap-and-trade system designed to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions statewide. One of the energy group’s leaders during a recent interview cast doubt whether greenhouse gases are causing the Earth’s temperatures to rise. It’s a position at odds with the findings of scientists worldwide. At its annual conference this summer, the group is hosting a keynote speaker who has suggested the best way to address climate change is by burning more fossil fuels.
OHSU paid the group $21,000 in annual membership dues. UO, which joined the group in November, was paying $13,000, records show