The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking on water for advocating a climate change position that even its own members find irresponsible.
But this is only the latest episode in the Chamber’s 20-year campaign to block legislative solutions that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create new green jobs and, ultimately, lead to energy independence.
That campaign is a central – unavoidable – theme in Climate Cover-up, the book that I have recently written with Richard Littlemore. It details four years of research on climate change misinformation and especially on the work of a powerful alliance of lobbyists and industry front groups who have set back the fight against climate change – and the push for clean energy independence – by two decades.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading player from the outset, is finally suffering mainstream exposure, as major companies abandoned ship in protest against the Chamber’s climate policy. Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have all quit; and Nike stepped down from the Chamber board of directors. All cited embarrassment over Chamber climate policy as the cause.
The Chamber brought this rift upon itself.
Vice President Bill Kovacs triggered the humiliation during the summer when he suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency be subjected to a Scopes monkey trial to review the science behind man-made climate change. Kovacs back-pedaled as soon as mainstream media picked up the story, but not in time to stop the exodus of Chamber members who wanted to distance themselves from the Chamber’s anti-science position.
Last week, Mother Jones revealed that the Chamber has also been inflating its membership numbers by 1,000 per cent. While the Chamber has been claiming to represent “more than three million” U.S. businesses, in reality, it has just 300,000 business members. That still could be seen as an impressive number but, at less than 1% of all American companies, it hardly justifies the Chambers claim to be “the voice of business” in the United States.
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein published an excellent piece on the Chamber’s inflated membership, noting “how disingenuous the Chamber has become in its Washington lobbying.” Even the White House joined in the Chamber pile-on.