The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest lobbying force in the nation, promoting a right-wing agenda as the “voice of business.” The Chamber claims that a cap-and-trade program to limit global warming pollution would “strangle the economy” and has even called for a “Scopes monkey trial” on the science of global warming.
Today, Exelon CEO John Rowe announced that his company — the largest electric utility company in the United States — would not renew its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its opposition to global warming action. In his keynote address to the annual conference of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the nation’s largest association of energy efficiency experts, Rowe said that the Chamber’s multi-million-dollar campaign against clean energy legislation is incompatible with Exelon’s commitment to climate change leadership. As Rowe said when he accepted a leadership award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce in 2008:
Exelon has staked out an industry-leading position on the issue of climate change and, in the spirit of Daniel Burnham, we have launched our own “not so little plan” to eliminate the equivalent of our entire carbon footprint by the year 2020. I do not know if it will stir men’s souls, but I hope it will stir policymakers and others in our industry to action.
Confirming Exelon’s decision to ThinkProgress, a spokesperson explained that “Exelon is a big supporter of climate legislation.” Exelon is the third energy company to sever ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the past week, joining Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources.
In today’s speech, Rowe called for a cap-and-trade system to drive clean-energy investment:
The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible. Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.