PG&E CEO: We left Chamber Of Commerce because they lied to us about climate policy; Chu says “it’s wonderful” companies are fleeing the Chamber

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Thursday applauded companies that have quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because they disagree with the business group’s climate change policy. “I think it’s wonderful,” Chu told reporters at a solar energy event on the National Mall. He said companies that left the Chamber object “to foot dragging, to denials” and realize that efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses are “part of our economic future in the United States.”

… “I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to realize the economic opportunity that the United States can lead in a new industrial revolution,” said Chu, a supporter of alternative fuels and strong regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

You just can’t keep up with all the news about the nano-Chamber of Commerce.  But here are the key points:

Tom Donohue, the embattled president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, today defiantly defended the attacks on clean energy legislation and climate science that have caused a mass exodus of companies from his organization. Donohue told reporters, “We’re not changing where we are,” saying of critics, “Bring ’em on.” One of the chamber’s sharpest critics is Peter Darbee, chairman, president, and CEO of electric utility Pacific Gas & Electric, which was the first company to quit the chamber after they called for “monkey trials” on climate science. In a recent interview with E&E News, Darbee explained that his company quit the chamber after they repeatedly lied about their approach to climate policy:

“The reason for our departure from the chamber is that we had repeated discussions with the chamber about how the direction they were on was not consistent with our position, in fact, very much at odds. And their response was, “We’ll take care of it. Really, our position and yours, PG&E, are much closer than you believe them to be, and don’t be concerned about that.” And we went down a road over several years, and there was fact after fact, development after development that caused us to believe that fundamentally we had entirely different positions.”

Watch the video at E&E News.

The Chamber claims that federal regulation to limit global warming pollution would “strangle the economy.” and has even called for a “Scopes monkey trial” on the science of global warming. Darbee, not surprisingly, called that “extreme language, certainly not language that we at PG&E were comfortable with.”

This is how the Chamber of Commerce showed its “support” for “strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change” last year:

13 Responses to PG&E CEO: We left Chamber Of Commerce because they lied to us about climate policy; Chu says “it’s wonderful” companies are fleeing the Chamber

  1. Jeff R. says:

    Joe, your headline might go too far. I don’t think Darbee said that the Chamber “lied to them.” I watched the interview and did not hear that, and your quotation does not support your headline.

    [JR: The headline was Wonk Room’s, but the transcript that I posted supports the word. I suppose that if they had not clearly lied about so many other things, like their denial and their board policy, you could possibly give them the benefit of the doubt that there was a miscommunication. But they long ago lost any such benefit.]

  2. MarkB says:

    Off-topic: related to the devastating East African drought, Here are a number or regional studies published in climate-related journals on the effects of global warming:

    Feddema, Johannes J. 1999. “Future African Water Resources: Interactions between Soil Degradation and Global Warming,” Climatic Change, Vol. 42, No. 3, July, pp. 561-596.
    “This study uses a well-established water balance methodology to evaluate the relative impact of global warming and soil degradation due to desertification on future African water resources.

    The net result of the combined scenarios is an intensification and extension of drought conditions during dry seasons.”

  3. Leif says:

    Hi Joe. Off topic and expect moderation so post if you want or use as you see fit.
    I commented on the Oregon, Washington dead zone a bit ago. At the time climate change was a possibility.
    New report is more convinced.
    Pacific Ocean ‘dead zone’ in Northwest may be irreversible —
    Reporting from Corvallis, Ore. – An oxygen-depleted “dead zone” the size of New Jersey is starving sea life off the coast of Oregon and Washington and will probably appear there each summer as a result.

    Very sad. These were very productive waters in my youth when I commercial fished.

  4. Perhaps Secy. Chu should reconsider his view of the Chamber of Commerce. Yes, they seem a bit too quick to act Republicanish. But maybe they have some points to make?

    A perfect storm is heading our way. The combination of American taste in automobiles, a government pushed shift from foreign oil to coal juice (electricity) to push them along, and cap and trade legislative action to penalize coal use is a set-up for national crisis. Add on the fact that our industry will be put further into crisis by a basic disconnect between supply and demand and watch out for a rogue wave of unimaginable size.

    One should not assume that knowledge of electronic technology, such as that of Steve Jobs and John Chambers, carries over very well to energy. A discussion of engine efficiency and how it is not comparable to electric motor efficiency can often show the gap in understanding here. Then try to explain how the marginal response of the electric power system to new loads is a very different thing from the “mix” of generating types that are active.

    Maybe we should not assume too much about who knows best what to do. Even Secy. Chu has seemingly lost the thread and does not connect freshman physics to the current problem of energy, since it is not at all likely that plug-in cars will help reduce CO2 emissions. He did of course emphasize that the funding for plug-in cars would help reduce foreign oil, which is true, but his add on statement that it would help with CO2 reduction is not valid unless the cars are basically redesigned to sip not guzzle energy.

  5. The comment re John Chambers and Steve Jobs was with respect to the linked Business Week article.

  6. Greener says:

    Now would be a great time to contact local businesses that are chamber members and will be impacted by climate change and ask them to resign from the chamber. Go to your local chamber’s page to locate the members. Great examples are seafood restaurants, or health practitioners. Explain to them in very polite terms and ask them to leave the chamber. Again be polite, but hold their feet to the fire. Also, write to the local chamber and let them know that you will not be patronizing their members. Can anyone suggest an alternative that businesses can join as an alternative to the chamber?

  7. caerbannog says:

    Off-topic but worthy of another post here:,8599,1929238,00.html and

    Still more evidence indicating that current CO2 levels are the highest in some 15 million years. Latest findings just published in Science.

  8. Blue Swan says:

    In some sense, middle-Eastern radical Islam is just a cover for a bunch of oil traders who are worried that demand for their product is about to go through the floor because of a cutover to hydrogen.

  9. Al says:

    Clicking the link, “SEIU has a petition asking U.S. Senators to break up with the chamber, with a video starring PG&E’s Darbee:”, elicits the response,
    “This video has been removed by the user.”

  10. Eli Rabett says:

    The Chamber of Commerce has never been anything but the Republican party in suits. What you are witnessing is major corporations leaving the Republican Party because it no longer represents their interests.

  11. Leif says:

    People continue to refer to the “American taste in automobiles,” # 4, as being a foregone conclusion. I feel that a lot more emphasis needs to be placed on the auto industries successful advertising of their most profitable products, be damed what the public wants. Which also just happened to coincide with big oil interests as well. Look at the success of smoking campaigns of the past that have killed so many.
    Those very industries continue to disseminate dubious statements, to be polite, on the environmental effects of their products. Also quite successfully I might add.

  12. Stephan says:

    Chamber of Commerce is getting a little empty nowadays. More and more companies leaving due to the chambers vision upon climate change. Really good to see though that these companies are so commited towards their companies impact on climate change and that they want to be a part of the solution rather than the problem.

    For more info on the environent, have a look at this Green News.

  13. thepink says:

    ok, lets get real here. California’s Pacific Power & Gas left the Chamber over their stance on the climate change legislation because it would interfere with free money. Nothing else. How do you say? Well if you read the legislation (I have) it talks about carbon credits being given to power companies to encourage the lowering of emissions. Those that do not use their allowance are free to “trade” the allowances on the open market, to those other companies that could not meet the regulated standard. Given the fact that PG&E uses nuclear, hydroelectric, steam & natural gas, they really do not have emissions to speak of, so they would basically get free money by selling those carbon credits they are allowed by the government. Well, actually it would not be free, it would be a transfer of money from the folks in the midwest and south whose power plants use coal for power gerneration.


    [JR: I don’t print long-debunked nonsense. I’ve already posted on this. The bill says you can’t get more allowances than you need. There’s no transfer.]