Posting on National Journal blog: Secret Decoder Ring Needed to Unravel U.S. Chamber of Commerce Response

NWF   |   August 31, 2009

I posted the following response on the National Journal blog today in response to a reply from Bill Kovacs with the U.S Chamber of Commerce. The reply is in response to a question on whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be required to defend its finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce contends.

You need a secret decoder ring to unravel Bill Kovacs’ illogical pretzel in his National Journal blog, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches the most ambitious effort in years to undermine scientific progress on climate change while simultaneously claiming to be a believer in that same science. Here’s the secret to understanding the two different faces of the Chamber on global warming: Mr. Kovacs and the Chamber leadership will do anything to stop legislation and regulations that are aimed to rein in runaway greenhouse gas emissions, and they have resorted to an anti-science agenda that is not supported by most of the Chamber’s own business members. How else do you explain Mr. Kovacs’ debate with himself? On the one hand, the Chamber is trying to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ignore the years of careful scientific work by the agency and other scientists that take us to the threshold of real action to begin reducing emissions. They want EPA to stage a “trial” on climate science. As Mr. Kovacs told the Los Angeles Times last week: “It would be evolution versus creationism. It would be the science of climate change on trial.” On the other hand, Mr. Kovacs maintains in today’s blog that the “Chamber supports sensible and ambitious congressional and international action on global climate change.” So which Chamber are we really dealing with today? The official Chamber whose members want “ambitious” action on global warming, or the Chamber run by Mr. Kovacs and other obstructionists who want EPA to pretend that global warming doesn’t threaten public health, welfare and the environment?

Mr. Kovacs wants EPA to put the science of global warming on trial. But the real trial today should be for the Chamber’s business members to demand more accountability from the Chamber’s staff as they spend millions of dollars to derail clean energy initiatives and drag today’s debate on climate change solutions back into yesterday’s debate on climate science. Companies including Wegmans Foods, Nike, IBM, 3M, Eastman Kodak, FedEx, UPS, Charles Schwab, Xerox, Anheuser-Busch, CVS, Entergy, Duke Energy, Dow Chemical, Siemens, State Farm, USAirways, Pfizer, Harrah’s, Kimberly-Clark, New York Life Insurance Company, and Alcoa have executive staff who sit on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. Many of these companies have taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and join the fight against global warming, and some advocate for the type of legislation that the Chamber is trying to kill. It’s time for these companies to weigh in with the Chamber and stop this anti-science, anti-action nonsense. The customers of many of these companies would be surprised, and no doubt alarmed, to find that a portion of the money they spend might be sent on to support the Chamber of Commerce, which has disclosed $17 million in lobbying for the first half of this year alone. Last week, a Washington Post poll found that the public supports the efforts of President Obama and Congress on energy by a two-to-one margin (57% to 29%). When asked specifically about the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed in June by the House, but opposed by the Chamber, 71% of the public support the measure, according to another recent national poll by Zogby.

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the Chamber refuses to disclose who its other business members are beyond its Board of Directors. More than 10,000 small businesses, including 650 members of the Chamber, recently sent letters to the Chamber asking them to stop lobbying against the clean energy jobs plans moving through Congress. More businesses, of every size, should follow.

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Published: August 31, 2009