Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

2020's first battle between Big Tech and climate activists is already here, and it won't be the last.

Driving the news: Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) yesterday alleged management is trying to prevent employees from continuing to publicly criticize corporate policies.

  • The group says two employees were threatened with termination and "a total of four were told in meetings that they were in violation of the company’s policies on workers speaking to the press and on social media," Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: This is more than an HR dispute. It shows how advocates are increasingly targeting tech giants to act more aggressively — even as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others have made various commitments and stepped up renewables purchases.

What's next: AECJ's announcement of the allegations shows that more battles await. It looks critically at pledges Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled in September.

  • While AECJ called them a victory, they want the company's 2040 pledge of net-zero emissions sped up to 2030.
  • They also criticize Amazon Web Services' work with oil companies.

The big picture: Activists are focusing on tech giants for several reasons.

  • Data centers consume immense amounts of electricity.
  • Amazon uses fossil fuels to deliver billions of packages.
  • Companies including Microsoft and Amazon have cloud computing and other business lines tailored to oil-and-gas sector clients.

Why you'll hear about this again: The political environment is ripe. White House hopeful Bernie Sanders has criticized tech companies over their work with the oil sector.

  • And there's a lot of attention right now on corporate policies as the Trump administration has scaled back federal emissions rules.

The other side: An Amazon spokesperson told Axios and other outlets, "Our policy regarding external communications is not new and we believe is similar to other large companies."

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Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.