US Chamber's Long History of Killing Clean Energy Policy

Wed, 2009-10-21 10:47Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

US Chamber's Long History of Killing Clean Energy Policy

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.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters, “It’s wonderful” to see so many companies quit the Chamber of Commerce. “I think companies like that – Exelon and others – are saying we have recognized the reality. They are saying we can’t be a party to this denial and foot-dragging.” “I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to realize the economic opportunity that the United States can lead in a new industrial revolution,” Chu said.

Secretary Chu is absolutely correct.

The United States can – and should – lead the clean energy revolution. It can – and should – pass strong climate and energy policies. These policy signals would do far more to secure American energy independence and create millions of jobs than anything the Chamber and other business lobbyists could conjure up. Strong climate and energy policy will facilitate the rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout the global economy, securing our future against oil price shocks, climate-altering pollution and wars over dwindling resources.

Against that scenario, the Chamber has been running interference on behalf of entrenched fossil fuel interests, a point often overlooked in the current hostile media coverage. Despite the dents to its reputation, the Chamber remains one of the most effective lobbying forces behind the continued U.S. failure to address the climate crisis.

The Chamber has always fought tooth and nail against the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, arguing that a transition to clean energy technologies would kill the U.S. economy. The Chamber has repeatedly tried to magnify the voices of climate change skeptics like Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer. The Chamber’s long history of extreme opposition to climate policy is openly reflected in reports and press releases on its own website. For example, an excerpt from the Chamber’s ‘Summary Remarks’ section of its 2005 report, Reality Check: Straight Talk About the Kyoto Protocol:

“Addressing the climate change challenge by attempting to stabilize the level of CO2 in the atmosphere (if proven necessary) would require expending absolutely vast sums of money (many trillions of dollars) on a far larger scale of intervention than that envisaged by the Kyoto Protocol. However, adopting such an enlarged intervention, premised on enforced, huge cutbacks on CO2 emissions, could be highly destructive to the economies of many nations and could severely curtail the availability of funds needed for addressing other major societal problems, particularly if such a program were to be implemented within a short time frame of a few decades.”

Further examples of the Chamber’s climate skepticism abound, especially in its campaign against the failed Lieberman-Warner climate bill of 2008.

The Chamber claims a responsible line, saying that it has “called upon the United States to join with other nations to negotiate a new international agreement that sets binding CO2 reduction commitments for each nation, while allowing each to devise its own best path to meeting its target.” But in advocating for the death of Kyoto, the Chamber is really calling for a global agreement that requires no accountability between nations.

The Chamber wants the U.S. to pollute at will, while holding other nations responsible for reducing emissions – “if proven necessary.” While the beneficiaries of this policy are exclusively the fossil fuel industries that dominate Chamber policy making, the effects have been widespread. And no wonder. The Chamber spent nearly $35 million in the third quarter of 2009 alone, setting a single quarter record and quadrupling its 2nd quarter lobbying expenditures. That brings the Chamber’s annual lobbying total to over $52 million so far this year, with an active 4th quarter under way.

Their lobbyists and advertisements typically use arguments that are simple and effective, even while being inaccurate and misleading. The Chamber also claims “mainstream, commonsense views that are shared by a broad majority of the American people.” But in reality, the group is far out of step, pushing for denial and delay when most major companies are calling for urgent government action. As a result, the Chamber may be losing serious ground.

Politico reports this week that the White House and congressional Democratic leaders are working to marginalize the Chamber by dealing directly with the CEOs of major U.S. corporations. This plan to “neuter the Chamber” goes beyond the Kerry-Boxer climate bill, involving President Obama’s full first-year agenda on health care reform, climate change legislation and regulatory reform. “They’ve taken a real hit this year,” a prominent Democratic lobbyist told Politico this week. “In the White House and on the Hill, among the people who run things, they are radioactive.”

But the Chamber, famous for long campaigns against labor unions, workplace safety regulations and other common sense American policies, is not giving up on its dirty energy advocacy. “If people want to attack us, bring ‘em on,” Chamber CEO Tom Donohue told reporters recently. “We are not changing where we are,” he said. “We’ve thought long and hard about what is important here and we are not going anywhere.”

Whether anyone will still be listening remains to be seen. A diminished role for the U.S. Chamber would brighten the prospects of passing climate and energy policy in the United States and abroad, but there are other lobbying groups determined to defend dirty fossil fuel interests at all costs. More on that in future posts about who is killing American climate policy.

Stay tuned.

Cross-posted on Huffington Post and Daily Kos.

James Hoggan is a 35 year veteran in public relations and the author of the new book Climate Cover Up that will be released this week US-wide.

Comments

I’m trying to figure out this 300,000 vs 3,000,000 number. I don’t think it’s an out right lie. They must use the larger number because they feel they represent all US businesses even though the actual membership number is much smaller.

“they feel they represent all US businesses”

They do not.

It is an outright lie. It’s pure deception to claim they their membership includes non-members. There’s nothing sacrocant about any membership organization that allows it to speak for those who don’t belong, or belong to another organization. It’s analogous to labor unions not representing non-unionized workers. The chamber (like a labor union) may take a position that non-members agree to, but they have no right to claim they’re members.

Given the fact that the Chamber is losing membership lately over the issue of climate change, it’s all the more a lie.

And those don’t count do they. PR people lie all the time.

Not like a scientist lying about “unprecedented” warming due to two bogus hockey stick temperature reconstructions, and then hiding the data and methods.

Now THAT is worthy of serious jail time imo.

“Not like a scientist lying”

Here are more liars for you to complain about: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/1021climate_letter.shtml

I feel I represent all thinking people so I represent 6.5 billion….

maybe it’s more like a union leader saying he represents all workers in and out of the union in the sense that his bargaining for his members will have some spill over benefits to non union folks.

… and if there are 6.5 billion who qualify as “thinking people”, perhaps we should raise the standards a little.

We need the truth to come out:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095850.htm

Less Ice In Arctic Ocean 6000-7000 Years Ago

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2008) — Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.
See also:

”The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don’t know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today,” says Astrid Lyså, a geologist and researcher at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

Did you read past the headline EdB? I did and here’s what I saw:

However, the scientists are very careful about drawing parallels with the present-day trend in the Arctic Ocean where the cover of sea ice seems to be decreasing.

“Changes that took place 6000-7000 years ago were controlled by other climatic forces than those which seem to dominate today,” Astrid Lyså believes.

I read somewhere (sorry can’t remember where) that they were claiming all 3,000,000 members of all the Chambers of Commerce. But of course the US Chamber of Commerce is not the same as, say, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
So, a lie. But a small one in the context.

What is wrong with a proper debate on AGW or climate change?
If each side is quite confident in their views nothing, can be lost, and a better understanding will be gained overall.
The only reason for avoiding suchg a debate is if one side is not confident in their views or is afraid of being exposed.
I say bring on the debate, no matter who organizes it!

The trouble is that deniers have no science of any significance. All they have is rhetoric and and endless stream of lies.

A debate is pointless!

Science is the only way to determine how humans should behave and what nature has in store for us.

Publish the science that proves AGW is a myth or go to hell!

Again, this site advocates for a world government, favors the group over the individual. I decide how I will behave Mr. Criminal. It is pretty funny you claim we are unscientific. You hacks sit here and cry about the 450ppm number and claim all of these scenarios. What is funny is that you cannot prove 0.01% of the claims? Why? You have to wait until the atmosphere hits 450ppm. The funny thing about that, we will all be dead long before the atmosphere reaches that concentration. It seems to me there is a lot of doomsday talk here because the longer we continue with our normal lives, the more people will see that we cannot impact the climate versus something like the sun or the clouds. But let me guess, you’ve debunked both of these theories and the sun has no impact on temperature and clouds don’t reflect sunlight.

You’ve yet to “prove” that AGW is a fact.

The best you have is a half-baked “likely” out of the world authority on Climate Change, and the scientific base for even that has collapsed.
I suggest that you keep up with the current “science” rather than trust old ideas, or you may have to change from climate criminal to climate idiot or even climate oops!.
I trust in science to determine truth, even in this issue where discussion or debate is actively denied.

Debate is a normal part of the scientific process. Why is it being discouraged in this one issue?

What is it about a debate that you are afraid of?

“I trust in science to determine truth”

trusting in “science” seems admirable enough, but at what point do we trust scientists?

of course the correct answer is “never”

which leaves us in a scary state of uncertainty.

Embrace the uncertainty and - trust “science” whatever that means

:)

Here’s a current example of “science” changing their guess to something else. …. at least until they change their minds again next week

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/biology_evolution/article6884359.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=1515793

Under your definition of proof, you also believe that cigarette smoking is safe and allowing mercury into your bloodstream causes no ill effects.

What kind of debate are you thinking about? Surely not a public debate, we’ve seen plenty of those already between creationists and evolutionists, and I’ve yet to see any growing understanding for either(!) side.

Debates are in most cases merely a presentation of highly simplified arguments filtered through the specific ‘debating skills’ of the individual. The latter has nothing to do with the quality of the argument, but has a MAJOR influence on the perceived credibility of the arguments.

To truly understand Global Warming as due to HUMAN activity one needs to understand the time-scales involved.

Here’s a powerful essay in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, with a foreword by Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

A Day in the Life of the Earth
http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/06/13/a-day-in-the-life-of-the-earth/

In addition, a number of other powerful CLIMATE CHANGE posts at Blog on the Universe at: http://bit.ly/HHgif

These posts are also outlined for use in classrooms, with essential questions, key concepts, learning objectives, and hands-on activities.

Jeff Goldstein, Center Director
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

First Link compares humans to an infestation - okay that can be argued, but what do you do with an infestation (bed bugs for example) - you kill it off quickly as possible …. well we do have a lot of excess nuclear bombs hanging around and this infestation seems to congregate into large cities… so do the math. Yes that is crazy - but if this is really an infestation, killing it off would be the solution. I’m not really comfortable with that but comparing humanity to an infection has consequences.

but we are also sentient, and can do something about that. What is required is that we stop breeding mindlessly like brewer’s yeast in a vat of molasses, or we will destroy the very thing that sustains us.* We are capable of self-control and sensible stewardship of the planet, but we aren’t exercising them. The starting point is recognizing that our activities can and do have an impact on our environment. When we do that and start modifying our behaviour, we will stop resembling an infestation and start resembling an intelligent form of life.

Fern
* paraphrased from Farley Mowat

Here is where I read about the USCOC membership.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/10/16/1070/0083

“The explanation for the Chamber’s exaggerated dishonest membership claim is simple: they reported the total membership of all local and regional Chambers of Commerce in the national number. That would be fine if the United States Chamber of Commerce actually had a relationship with the local and regional Chambers beyond a shared name, but there is virtually no connection. For example, as Harkinson points out, only one of the 118 board members of the United States Chamber of Commerce represents a local chamber.”

Businesses prosper when they have management that works to meet the challenge of global warming. The Chamber of Commerce is NOT doing any businesses any favor when they foster “stick your head in the sand” (except coal companies).

Businesses that are “green” – counter examples to the CofC troglodytes – like Apple Corporation. Apple is rocking! Making money and being green!

Or like Stonyfield Yogurt. A company featuring organic yogurt (more expensive suppliers) but they too are producing a product while minimizing energy costs.

(Disclosure: I own a few shares of Apple. I eat Stonyfield yogurt for breakfast.)

“Businesses prosper when they have management that works to meet the challenge of global warming”

The 0.5 warming as indicated by the paper listed below is not a reason for alarm. Indeed, the climate is likely to get much colder as we move to the next ice age. Maybe we need to add more CO2?

On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data
Richard S. Lindzen1 and Yong-Sang Choi1
Received 16 June 2009; revised 14 July 2009; accepted 20 July 2009; published 26 August 2009

Pointing out that “going green” is a winning strategy for businesses?
Or using the words “global warming”? Oh. A no-no in the denier world.

Want to see the future of wind power. Look at Germany.
Look at the subsidies and look at the costs. You want to bankrupt your
country just foward Germany’s lead.

Financial Post, 21 October 2009

By Manuel Frondel, Nolan Ritter and Colin Vance

An aggressive policy of generously subsidizing and effectively mandating
“renewable” electricity generation in Germany has led to a doubling of the
renewable contribution to electricity generation in recent years.

This preference came primarily in the form of a subsidy policy based on
feed-in tariffs, established in 1991 by the Electricity Feed-in Law,
requiring utilities to accept and remunerate the feed-in of “green”
electricity at 90 percent of the retail rate of electricity, considerably
exceeding the cost of conventional electricity generation.

A subsequent law passed in 2000 guaranteed continued support for 20 years.
This requires utilities to accept the delivery of power from independent
producers of renewable electricity into their own grid, paying
technology-specific feed-in tariffs far above their production cost of
¢2.9-10.2 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

With a feed-in tariff of ¢59 per kWh in 2009, solar electricity generated from photovoltaics (PV) is guaranteed by far the largest financial support among all renewable energy technologies.

Currently, the feed-in tariff for PV is more than eight times higher than the wholesale electricity price at the power exchange and more than four times the feed-in tariff paid for electricity produced by on-shore wind turbines.

Even on-shore wind, widely regarded as a mature technology, requires feed-in tariffs that exceed the per-kWh cost of conventional electricity by up to 300% to remain competitive.

By 2008 this had led to Germany having the second-largest installed wind
capacity in the world, behind the United States, and largest installed PV capacity in the world, ahead of Spain. This explains the claims that
Germany’s feed-in tariff is a great success.

Installed capacity is not the same as production or contribution, however, and by 2008 the estimated share of wind power in Germany’s electricity production was 6.3%, followed by biomass-based electricity generation (3.6%)and water power (3.1%). The amount of electricity produced through solar photovoltaics was a negligible 0.6% despite being the most subsidized renewable energy, with a net cost of about $12.4 billion for 2008.

The total net cost of subsidizing electricity production by PV modules is estimated to reach US $73.2 billion for those modules installed between 2000 and 2010. While the promotion rules for wind power are more subtle than those for PV, we estimate that the wind power subsidies may total US $28.1 billion for wind converters installed between 2000 and 2010.

FULL STORY at

Um, yah. The fossil fuel industry has enjoyed massive payouts to offset their exploration and production costs and I don’t see countries going “bankrupt.” Alarmist and chicken little are two words that come to mind.

“During the fiscal years of 2002-2008 the United States handed out subsidies to fossil fuel industries to a tune of 72 billion dollars, while renewable energy subsidies, during the same period, reached 29 billion dollars. Conducted by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the research shows that the US government has heavily subsidized ‘dirty fuels’ that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.”

Here’s the full story.

“Alarmist and chicken little are two words that come to mind.”

Me too. With respect to the whole AGW scam.

See
http://joannenova.com.au/2009/04/03/global-warming-a-classic-case-of-alarmism

GLOBAL WARMING: A CLASSIC CASE OF ALARMISM

This is a fun graph with brilliant insight by Dr Syun Akasofu. I challenge anyone not to be a bit more skeptical after seeing this graph!

…of Dr. Syun Akasofu, you mean? You’re right, it definately made me more skeptical of Syun Akasofu!

[x]

There are enough articles on the “myth of peak oil” floating around the Internet to fill a book; and there are enough books on the subject to fill a small library.  One of the common threads throughout these publications is their lack of credible sources, because not only is peak oil real, but we’re rapidly approaching that threshold. 

An example that is smacking the United...

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