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PG&E Corp. quits US Chamber Of Commerce over its “extreme position on climate change.”

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"PG&E Corp. quits US Chamber Of Commerce over its “extreme position on climate change.”"

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In a letter to the Chamber, PG&E Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee wrote:

We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.

In short, we’re leaving because the Chamber has been overrun by climate science deniers and disinformers (see “Are Chamber President Tom Donohue’s Ties to Union Pacific Railroading the Companies that Support Climate Policy?” and “Chamber admits calling for ‘Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century’ was dumb “” but it still apes the deniers“).

PG&E’s letter is excerpted in a blunt post on the company’s blog, Next100.com, titled, “Irreconcilable Differences,” written by Jonathan Marshall, PG&E’s Chief of External Communications:

In a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee cited “fundamental differences” over climate change to explain why the company is pulling out of the organization, despite the Chamber’s “long history as a positive force for America’s businesses and its economy.”

The letter criticized the Chamber for taking an extreme position on climate change, which Darbee said does not represent the range of views among Chamber members. In particular, he took the Chamber to task for its recent demand that there be a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to challenge the science on climate change….

Darbee also drew a sharp contrast between the Chamber’s approach and the constructive, consensus-driven positions forged by Edison Electric Institute and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

Instead, he said, “I fear it has forfeited an incredible chance to play a constructive leadership role on one of the most important issues our country may ever face.”

This is another in a long line of major companies quitting industry groups that are pushing denial, delay, and disinformation:

Interestingly, PG&E’s Marshall puts his company’s action in the context of those decisions:

In the past several weeks, two high-profile companies – Duke Energy and Alstom – publicly gave up their membership in the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy in protest over its opposition to federal climate change legislation.

Other companies that similarly favor climate change legislation faced uncomfortable questions this summer over their memberships in similar groups that have mounted aggressive campaigns to defeat pending climate bills.

Most responded to critics by pointing out that climate change is only one of many issues these organizations address.

Fair enough. But not every issue is created equal, and sometimes companies decide they have to take a more decisive stand on the really big ones.

Duke and Alstom made that decision. Now PG&E has as well.

Kudos to PG&E.

Here are other conflicts (via Wonk Room):

  • Members of USCAP and API: Siemens, General Electric [a division] and BP America
  • Members of USCAP and the Chamber of Commerce:  Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Deere & Company, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, and Siemens
  • Member of BICEP [Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy] and the Chamber of Commerce: Nike
  • Other ostensibly green companies on the boards of NAM and the Chamber include AT&T, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Corning, Ford, Honda, Toyota, 3M, Intel, and IBM

How about it, supposedly green companies?  If a big electric utility like PG&E can do the right thing, why not you?

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5 Responses to PG&E Corp. quits US Chamber Of Commerce over its “extreme position on climate change.”

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo! Bravo!! THAT is the sort of thing that’s needed.

    There is a lot at stake here, even in addition to the immense stakes associated with climate change. For example, there is the question: Will leading companies regain some honesty and sense of responsibility and realize that they have immense obligations to society other than mere short-term profit? The number of companies loosing credibility, fast, is large. (They’re loosing my respect and business too.) Every company that distances itself from the misleading efforts, that begins speaking truth, and that responsibly and genuinely embraces a much cleaner future gets my vote and my support.

    Bravo to PG&E.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  2. Leif says:

    I second that Jeff. Corporations currently have a case before the Supreme Court to be treated more like people in their lobbying efforts. They should be careful what they wish for. I have long contended that corporations and capitalism in general needs to become more humane in its allocation of resources and money to work for the well being of humanity and earth in total as the best of humanity currently does. I do not see how corporations can have it both ways, being able to exploit humanity and resources on the one hand and not being beholden to their “fellow” man on the other.

  3. Mac Ferguson says:

    Way to go PG&E! Too bad there are not more companies like this supporting the facts. If only the media would do the same. When will they realize that publishing blatant falsehoods by someone is NOT freedom of speech and only does a disservice to us ALL. One would think this would be the ‘story of the century’ and that everyone would be motivated to do the right thing given the consequences of inaction and yet our media seems much more concerned with ratings and creating controversy (even if it’s based on misinformation) than actually being part of the solution. With so much at stake, I just don’t get it.

  4. Joe S. says:

    I’m happy that PG&E has seen the light. But firms are not eleemosynary organizations. My guess is that PG&E has a heavy investment in nuclear power, which might look even better if there are some serious cap ‘n trade laws. Not that I have a problem with this.

  5. steve r says:

    Hold the applause…

    PG$E is full of contradictions so be wary to applaud them too quickly. They are currently fighting two progressive energy policy bills in California that would be great for promoting renewable energy production but bad for their bottom line. Let’s be real here. They are paying big money to create a green image… do u think they want to be attached to an organization like the Chamber of Commerce which obviously brings attention to their hypocrisies. PG$E is all for renewable production, as long as it’s on their terms. Well I’m sorry, we’ve got more important things to worry about then whether or not PG$E’s shareholders are doing well.

    Don’t want to compensate individuals who add their own solar energy to the grid: http://www.kcbs.com/pages/4644055.php?

    Are trying to water down legislation with decently aggressive benchmarks for renewable energy production in California: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/04/BU5K19HH3E.DTL&type=printable