Economic Message of the Week: Chamber of Commerce Defections Highlight Corporate Clean Energy Push

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is losing major member companies due to its opposition to climate and energy action, part of an industry realignment that has some top corporations pushing lawmakers to enact a stronger clean energy plan.
In the span of about a week, three major electric utilities, Exelon Corp., PNM Resources Inc., and PG&E Corp., announced they will not renew their membership in the world's largest business federation, citing concerns over the chamber's campaign against pollution-curbing measures under consideration by Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon after, Nike Inc., also wary of the group's views, resigned its position on the board of directors, and Apple Inc. left the chamber outright
"Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort," wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, in a letter to Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber.
Meanwhile, coalitions made up of top U.S. corporations have been following through on their principled unease, lobbying hard for American clean energy innovation and applauding the latest breakthrough, a clean energy bill jointly introduced by Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry (D-MA) last week.     
In an open letter to President Obama and the U.S. Senate, two dozen major companies–ranging from eBay to Gap–declared: "We are business leaders from companies of all sizes and many sectors calling for your leadership. We call on you to enact comprehensive legislation. … Now it's time for the United States Senate to act."
The letter was coordinated by Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, a project of Ceres, which praises key Senators "for their leadership role in introducing [The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act] and bringing it to the Senate for full consideration and deliberation by their colleagues. The time to act on climate change and energy policy is upon us and we urge the Members receiving this proposal to consider and act upon it in good faith for the good of the American people, the health of the U.S. economy, and the lives of future generations across the globe."

Published: October 7, 2009