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Tue, 2009-10-20 13:54Brendan DeMelle
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Mohawk Paper Joins Chamber of Commerce Exodus

Mohawk Fine Papers became the latest company to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy disagreements, adding more embarrassment to an already rough week for the Chamber.

According to the Mohawk press release:

“We believe that our continued membership in an organization that vigorously opposes sensible climate change policies is detrimental to our position as a business leader with a strong record in the areas of environmental innovation and climate protection,” says George F. Milner, Mohawk’s Senior VP, Energy, Environmental, and Government Affairs.

“We understand that the U.S. Chamber’s job is to promote policies that represent the consensus opinion of its membership; but the Chamber also has a responsibility to shape that consensus with vision, guidance and leadership that looks beyond ideological divisions. That is particularly important in the area of climate change policies,” Milner wrote in a letter to the Chamber last week.

Wed, 2009-10-14 15:09Brendan DeMelle
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The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Chamber of Commerce Faces Intense Pressure Over Extreme Climate Position

It turns out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce only has 300,000 members, not the “more than 3 million” it claimed to represent just a day ago, before Mother Jones magazine questioned the business lobby’s inflated numbers.

The Chamber has now “quietly backed off” the 3 million figure, according to Mother Jones, which reports today that:

Since 1997, the “3 million” figure has appeared in print more than 200 times in newspapers and broadcast outlets of all sizes…
By contrast, the 300,000 figure, which appears nowhere on the Chamber’s website, is cited in the news database Lexis-Nexis only three times–infrequently enough to be mistaken for a typo.”


Getting called out for such “semantic tricks” is the least of the Chamber’s problems these days.

The Huffington Post reports that MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, the holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman, is debating whether to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its extreme climate position and recent “Scopes Monkey Trial” challenge to the EPA over the Clean Air Act.

The Chamber has been losing members – real members out of its actual 300,000 or less total – at a rate of several each week lately.  Apple was the most recent in a string of high-profile defections including Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and PSEG

The exodus has weakened the Chamber’s credibility on the Hill at a critical time when business leaders are descending on Washington to lobby Congress to pass strong climate and energy legislation. Pete Altman at NRDC’s Switchboard blog has compiled a running tally of editorials from around the country criticizing the Chamber’s intransigence on climate change in a post titled “The U.S. Chamber’s Continuing Climate Credibility Crisis.”

Tue, 2009-10-13 13:24Brendan DeMelle
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House Committee Hearing To Investigate Coal Lobby’s Fraudulent Letters to Congress

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming is holding an investigative hearing on Thursday to further probe fraudulent letters sent to Congress by the coal industry’s public relations machine in an effort to derail clean energy and climate legislation.

The committee, chaired by Rep.  Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), has uncovered more than a dozen fraudulent letters sent to several members of Congress by Astroturf specialists Bonner & Associates, who were operating under contract for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

Markey’s committee hearing will feature some of the central figures in the controversy, including victims of the fraud.  DeSmogBlog has written extensively on Bonner’s Astroturf work for ACCCE, documenting the disgraced D.C. firm’s attempts to derail passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.  Fraudulent letters originating from Bonner’s office were sent on behalf of groups representing senior citizens, women, minorities and veterans in a repugnant scam.

Beyond exploring the specific evidence of Bonner’s fraud on Congress at the behest of the coal industry, the hearing will look generally at the practice of Astroturf, a vile public relations tactic sullying current debates over health care and energy legislation.  Industry-funded Astroturf involves the creation of a false appearance of actual grassroots support – often orchestrated by former tobacco lobbyists and fossil fuel industry apologists.

Wed, 2009-10-07 12:50Brendan DeMelle
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Bipartisan Report Claims Solving the Climate Crisis “Depends on Tropical Forests”

The bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests released an extensive report today calling on the Senate to consider tropical forest preservation as a central necessity in the climate bill in front of Congress.  The group suggests that solving the climate crisis will be “nearly impossible without urgent efforts to stem tropical deforestation.”

Tue, 2009-10-06 13:41Brendan DeMelle
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Apple Quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce Over Climate

Apple became the fourth company in recent days to completely sever ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the business lobby’s backwards stance on climate change.

In a letter to the Chamber obtained by the New York Times, Apple states [PDF]:

Wed, 2009-09-30 09:49Brendan DeMelle
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NIKE Quits Chamber of Commerce Board Over Climate Rift

The exodus continues.  Nike announced today that the company simply cannot stand by and watch the Chamber of Commerce continue its campaign to derail much-needed action to address climate change.  So Nike Just Did It.

Here is Nike’s statement [PDF copy courtesy of NRDC here]:

Nike believes US businesses must advocate for aggressive climate change legislation and that the United States needs to move rapidly into a sustainable economy to remain competitive and ensure continued economic growth.

As we’ve stated, 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.

We believe businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions.

It is important that US companies be represented by a strong and effective Chamber that reflects the interests of all its members on multiple issues. We believe that on the issue of climate change the Chamber has not represented the diversity of perspective held by the board of directors.

Therefore, we have decided to resign our board of directors position. We will continue our membership to advocate for climate change legislation inside the committee structure and believe that we can better influence policy by being part of the conversation. Moving forward we will continue to evaluate our membership.

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