UPDATE: PNM Resources announced today that they are leaving the Chamber of Commerce entirely, not just the board position. See Pete Altman’s report on this explosive news at NRDC’s Switchboard blog.
Here is the new statement from PNM Resources announcing the departure:
At PNM Resources, we see climate change as the most pressing environmental and economic issue of our time. Given that view, and a natural limit on both company time and resources, we have decided that we can be most productive by working with organizations that share our view on the need for thoughtful, reasonable climate change legislation and want to push that agenda forward in Congress. These organizations include the Edison Electric Institute, the association of shareholder-owned electric companies, and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of businesses and environmental organizations of which we are a founding member.
As a result, we have decided to let our membership in the U.S. Chamber lapse when it expires at the end of this year.
New Mexico-based utility holding company PNM Resources announced this week that the company’s chief executive, Jeff Sterba, has given up his seat on the US Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Chamber has attracted severe criticism lately from some of its member companies due to its backwards stance on global warming.
PNM issued a statement lambasting the Chamber for its recent antics:
PNM’s announcement came hours after news broke that California utility giant PG&E withdrew completely from the US Chamber, and Nike issued a public statement slamming the Chamber’s views on climate, although Nike remains on the Chamber board.
NRDC counted up how many members of the Chamber board support federal action on climate change, and found that 19 companies support action while only four oppose it. With PNM Resources defecting from the board, that leaves 18 companies who support economy-wide reductions in CO2 emissions and/or federal cap-and-trade legislation:
Deere & Company
Dow Chemical Company
Fox Entertainment Group
Rolls Royce North America Inc.
The Robertson Foundation
Toyota Motor North America Inc.
Which of these companies will be next to stand up publicly to the Chamber’s intransigence on climate action?
Many of them belong to at least one coalition calling for federal action to address climate change, including the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) and the Business Environment Leadership Council (BELC). These companies’ continued involvement on the Chamber of Commerce board - which appears committed to operating at the behest of its major fossil fuel-dependent members - runs contrary to their stated support for action on climate.
Although Duke Energy recently cancelled its membership with the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and left the National Manufacturers Association previously over those groups’ efforts to fight climate legislation, Duke CEO Jim Rogers remains on the Chamber of Commerce board. Nike VP James Carter also remains on the Chamber board, despite Nike’s criticism of the Chamber’s stance earlier this week.
The recent hemorrhaging of memberships in NAM, ACCCE, the Chamber and other business groups fighting against climate legislation makes perfect sense. Many major companies understand that climate change threatens their bottom line, and they want to see action to address that threat.
These companies need to come to terms with the fact that, by remaining active dues-paying members in groups like the Chamber of Commerce, they are supporting an agenda contrary to their own best interests. How can they support groups calling for meaningful action to address climate change, while simultaneously belonging to groups that will fight tooth and nail against such action?