Will the last one (to leave the Chamber of Commerce) turn off the lights?

This blog was written by Jennifer Rennicks, former Senior Director of Policy & Communications at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | October 5, 2009 | Climate Change

Apple Computer is the latest in a long-line of American businesses leaving the Chamber of Commerce over climate policy. They resigned today with a letter stating:

“We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the E.P.A.’s effort to limit greenhouse gases,” wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice-president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, in a letter addressed to Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber. [Click here to read the letter.]

Apple is in good company: last week, Nike resigned its seat on the US Chamber of Commerce board by stating:

We fundamentally disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce on the issue of
climate change and their recent action challenging the EPA is inconsistent with our view that
climate change is an issue in need of urgent action.

September simply wasn’t a good month for the US Chamber of Commerce.  In just a few weeks, a several high-profile members – Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources – severed ties to one of the nation’s largest lobbying entities due to the Chamber’s increasingly strident opposition to climate-change legislation.  That hard-line position then cost the Chamber  another member –

“The CEO of Exelon, the largest utility company in the United States, announced today the company will not renew its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the chamber’s opposition to climate change legislation.

Speaking at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s national conference, Exelon CEO John Rowe said a cap-and-trade system, which the climate change bill passed in the House would enact, would create incentives for energy efficiency”

So in contrast to what the Chamber has been spouting about climate legislation wrecking havoc on society and our economy, we have the CEO of the nation’s largest utility saying that comprehensive climate legislation can reduce energy consumption and save consumers money and is preferable to regulation by the EPA.

And remember, this is the same Chamber of Commerce that recently suggested a ‘Scopes’-like public hearing on the climate change debate:

“It would be evolution versus creationism,” said William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. “It would be the science of climate change on trial.”

Incredibly, the Chamber of Commerce isn’t the only ostrich with its head in the sand.   Other organizations that refuse to acknowledge the reality of global warming and the solutions that are needed are bleeding members, as well.  Duke Energy,  Alcoa and Alstrom Power all left the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) this fall and earlier this spring, Duke Energy declined to renew its membership with the National Association of Manufacturers.

The Chamber, NAM and ACCCE’s antics bring to mind a quote from the last round of international climate talks held in Bali in December 2007.   A delegate from Papua New Guinea challenged the United States to “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”

If enough members pull out of these backward-leaning organizations, the organizational clout on Capitol Hill will diminish, leaving a space that can be filled by climate advocates and those corporations and entities willing to discuss the policy measures needed to address this most critical issue.  In the interest of saving money and energy, let’s just ask that the last one out the door turns off the lights.

To help us keep abreast of these fast-moving developments, here’s a scorecard of corporations that

  • have quit the US Chamber of Commerce: PG&E, PNM Resources, Levi Strauss & Co, Exelon, Apple
  • have resigned their seat on the US Chamber of Commerce Board: Nike
  • maintain the US Chamber of Commerce doesn’t represent their views on climate policy: Johnson&Johnson, GE, San Jose Chamber of Commerce, Alcoa, Duke, Entergy, Microsoft

Updated: 10/7/09

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