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:
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.”
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.
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.”
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]: