The Chamber of Commerce is so extreme they oppose research and development into renewable energy!

Some Pollyannas (climate ostriches?) claim we are moving towards a post-partisan Congress that might embrace massive increases in clean energy R&D.  The folks with real money and influence on Capitol Hill, however, know we are moving in the opposite direction.  As The Hill reported this week:

Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill late last month said members of Congress should rethink attempts to set aside large amounts of money for the research and development of nascent energy technologies like wind and solar at the expense of conventional forms of energy like oil.

The fact that the public overwhelmingly supports clean energy R&D means nothing to the pollutocrats who run the Chamber.  They strongly opposed the climate and clean energy jobs bill, even though the public strongly supported that too (see “Post BP Disaster: Support grows for comprehensive energy bill that makes carbon polluters pay” for a long list of polls”).

The Chamber, of course, ran an unprecedented $75 million campaign to unseat progressives from Congress, in defense of a big-oil agenda.  So no one should be totally surprised that they tout the most extremist anti-clean energy position imaginable:

“Can we, in the economic times in which we find ourselves, continue to fund the type of research and development and the types of monies that were spent in the stimulus package on very high-cost energy sources?” Harbert said….

“It may be lovely to think about a world without fossil fuels, but that simply is not America’s energy reality.”

Well, obviously, if you kill any effort to put a price on carbon, accelerate deployment of clean energy, or even ramp up R&D, then you’ll be addicted to fossil fuels until they are gone along with the climate.

The Chamber’s policies have led sensible members to flee:

But that has simply reduced the few voices of reason in the Chamber, without hurting their wallet at all.

I’ve labeled the Chamber’s anti-R&D policy extremist, but that’s only because it’s so far outside the mainstream public view.  Here is some polling data from last February:

As I read some possible government policies to address America's energy supply, tell me whether you would favor or oppose each. Would you favor or oppose the government increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar, and hydrogen technology?

Even when you express it more broadly as whether the government should simply invest more in clean energy sources (which presumably includes more than R&D), the support is strong, as in this June poll:


Interesting, isn’t it, that support for regulating corporate polluters is slightly stronger than that for increasing government investment in clean energy.

But it matters not what the public wants.  You can be 100% certain that a top priority of the Tea-Party-led Republicans, elected with the Chamber’s help, will be to cut funding for clean energy, as as I’ve said before.  Whenever conservatives have the presidency or control of Congress, they have gutted or blocked funding for clean energy:

  • President Reagan gutted Jimmy Carter’s renewable energy program (see “Who got us in this energy mess? Start with Ronald Reagan“).
  • Newt Gingrich blocked President Clinton’s effort to boost funding for solar PV research and deployment programs.
  • Even “moderate” conservatives like John McCain and Judd Gregg opposed the kind of funding and incentives that countries like Japan and Germany embraced.

In the pro-pollution Chamber of Commerce and its bought-and-paid for Congress, extremist views are the mainstream.

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19 Responses to The Chamber of Commerce is so extreme they oppose research and development into renewable energy!

  1. BBHY says:

    “the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy”

    Dedicated to keeping us addicted to oil? Dedicated to ensuring that all new energy R&D occurs only outside the US?

  2. Peter M says:

    The Chambers extremism matches the ‘ultra Ayn Rand Atlas shrugged’ philosophy we have been in the last 3 decades or so.

  3. Solar Jim says:

    Fossil/fission financial fascism is ascendant in the halls of power. America’s enemies are not external to her shores, rot comes from within. It now occupies all branches of government-by-wealth and investment banking (six corrupt transnationals). It seems institutionalized across our corporotocracy and will lead to inevitable decline in many ways. A united status of toxic assets.

    Chamber of Horrors. Chamber of Combustion. Chamber of Contamination and Cataclysm. They are minding their storehouse of carbon reserves, and mining the planet and our economy (in more than one regard).

  4. BBHY says:

    One of the biggest reasons we are in these “economic times” is our addiction to oil. Saying we can’t fund energy R&D is like telling someone they can’t have medicine because they are sick.

  5. Mimikatz says:

    The Chamber is funded by oil and gas and coal interests, and they are afraid of competition. They want to get as much as they can from the ground before the music stops. It’s that simple, and why so many other companies are leaving.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Opposing clean tech in a world which faces an extinction event from emission induced, uncontrolled climate change, resembles actually the greatest national security threat.

  7. mike roddy says:

    Time for the boycott weapon, and formation of an alternate Chamber.

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    In general it comes down to one thing with our society’s lifestyle.
    Pollution makes people dumb.

    Pollution from inner city during pregnancy can reduce intelligence, research suggests
    Living near a busy road during pregnancy can affect the intelligence of your baby, claim scientists

    Dr Michael Msall, a University of Chicago paediatrician not involved in the research, said the study doesn’t mean that children living in congested cities “aren’t going to learn to read and write and spell.”
    But it does suggest that you don’t have to live right next door to a belching factory to face pollution health risks, and that there may be more dangers from typical urban air pollution than previously thought, he said.
    “We are learning more and more about low-dose exposure and how things we take for granted may not be a free ride,” he said.
    While future research is needed to confirm the new results, the findings suggest exposure to air pollution before birth could have the same harmful effects on the developing brain as exposure to lead, said Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins’ school of public health in Baltimore.
    Along with other environmental harms and disadvantages low-income children are exposed to, it could help explain why they often do worse academically than children from wealthier families, Breysse said.

    A spate of recent studies suggests that pollution can indeed affect the intelligence of children of all ages (even those still in utero). The primary culprit is smog — ground level pollution comprised of vehicle and smokestack emissions that can form a dense haze on and near busy roadways. While smog has long been known to be a health hazard for asthmatics, heart patients and the elderly, only recently have we begun to learn about its unique effects on our young people.

    A 2007 Harvard School of Public Health study found that children between the ages of eight and 11 living and attending school in areas of Boston with higher levels of traffic pollutants scored an average of 3.7 points lower on IQ tests than children living in less polluted areas. “The effect of pollution on intelligence was similar to that seen in children whose mothers smoked 10 cigarettes a day while pregnant, or in kids who have been exposed to lead,” reports Dr. Shakira Franco Suglia, lead author of the study.

    A 2009 Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health study of the effect over a five-year period of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — toxic pollutants that come from the combustion of coal, diesel or gas — showed even greater effects on the offspring of expecting mothers living in parts of Harlem and the Bronx in New York City. Researchers found that those children exposed to the highest amounts of PAH pollution had IQs some 4.31 to 4.67 lower than non-exposed kids.

    “These findings are of concern because these decreases in IQ could be educationally meaningful in terms of school performance,” says Frederica Perera, the study’s lead author and the Columbia Center’s director, adding that the effects of PAHs were similar to the findings of the damage caused by low-level lead exposure. “This finding is of concern because IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world.”

  9. Barry says:

    Big Fossil seems happy to take the rest of our economy down with them. Will we let them?

    Like a drowning man, they will submerge any sector of the economy that gets near them as they fight to keep their head above water.

    Everyone now knows that fossil has to go away because it is too dangerous to everyone else. Per capita emissions in USA have dropped 10% in the last decade. Total USA emissions are below 2000 levels. Americans have woken up to the dangers and are already choosing safer alternatives.

    The only question is how much damage the Big Fossil goliath manages to inflict on the way out the door.

  10. Not very smart of the Chamber…

    Gee, don’t they have decals and logos on the businesses that list with them?

    Well that makes it easy.

  11. Dave Yuhas says:

    I’m 56. Crap like this makes me glad I’ll be checking out when I do. I wouldn’t to be around in 50 or 60 years.

  12. riverat says:

    They should change their name to the Shame-ber of Commerce.

  13. Anne van der Bom says:

    World wide investments in clean energy rose by 30% last year. The still sluggish economies of the world notwithstanding.

    For anyone outside of their 19th century time capsule it is blatantly obvious where the world is heading. They should lead or step out of the way.

  14. ToddInNorway says:

    I will be test driving two different electric cars this weekend. I am very excited about this. Folks, you can vote for the preferred political candidates every two years but you can vote with your purchases (or non-purchases) much more often. I tend to believe that it is the latter vote that has any potential positive impact.

    [JR: Please keep us up to date!]

  15. Badgersouth says:


    Recommend that you critically review the article, “Why Climate Science Divides Us, But Energy Technology Unites Us” by Michael Shellenberger posted Jan 11 on

    [JR: Coming!]

  16. Joan Savage says:

    The Chambers’ internal processes are fundamentally not democratic, not even in a polling or questionnaire process, much less voting. In my period of membership (1995-2008) I found very limited interest in what ‘small’ members like myself thought about issues, as compared to opinions of ‘big’ members with large financial impact. The Chamber office sent out legislative alerts, expecting members to contact legislators to express the Chamber’s point of view. These alerts seldom reflected my personal views.

    To be fair, as a former individual member of a Chamber, I benefited from their pooled health insurance rates.

  17. Solar Jim says:

    RE: Mike Roddy “Time for the boycott weapon, and formation of an alternate Chamber.”

    Some businesses are apparently beginning a different chamber:
    Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy
    Contact: Rob Black,

    I have no further information than the above.