Days before President Obama’s EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced sweeping new rules to limit the amount of carbon pollution that existing power plants can dump into the atmosphere, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report blasting the then-unreleased regulations as certain to raise electricity prices, kill jobs, and slow the economy. But leading climate-friendly members of Chamber don’t want to be associated with its anti-climate report. Several member companies, contacted by ThinkProgress, declined to endorse the Chamber’s efforts against the administration’s move to address a direct cause of climate change.
ThinkProgress reached out to several dozen of the major corporations that have either contributed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or had executives currently serving on its board of directors. None endorsed the new report.
A spokeswoman for Intel directly distanced itself from the Chamber’s position. “We support the President’s Climate Action Plan,” she told ThinkProgress in an email, adding, “We can support this new rule if it is designed and implemented in a reasonable and cost effective way. We can’t know if those conditions are met until we see final rule next year and how it is implemented by states.”
While less explicit, other company spokespersons also distanced themselves from the report. While not addressing the specific issue, UPS told ThinkProgress that it “belongs to many organizations and while we share common views on some issues, we do not share the same views on all issues.” Verizon, reaffirming its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility, said, “While we are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we generally are not involved in policy issues that do not directly affect our business, such as the regulation of power plants.” Coca-Cola said it has no position on the Chamber’s report, 3M said it is still reviewing it, and Lockheed Martin said that it “has not evaluated the chamber’s report,” noting, “and it’s our understanding that the proposed regulations do not apply to us as it involves power plants.” MGM Resorts, while noting its commitment to clean energy, said it is not able “to claim the authority to comment on the issue of power plant emissions.”
Prudential wrote: “The Chamber does not speak on behalf of Prudential.”
The Chamber’s report, “Assessing the Impact of Potential New Carbon Regulations in the United States,” has already been cited by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who pointed to it as proof that “The president’s plan would indeed cause a surge in electricity bills — costs stand to go up $17 billion every year,” and would “potentially put an average of 224,000 more people out of work every year.” These claims have been debunked as false by multiple media fact-checkers.
The Chamber, a tax-exempt business association, calls itself “the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses.” But in recent years, many of its largest donors have been fossil fuel companies, including companies that profit from coal like Chevron (at least $1 million), American Electric Power Company (at least $525,000), Dominion Resources (at least $137,500), and Xcel Energy (at least $27,500), according to a review of corporate disclosure by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity.
Sam Jewler, communications officer for Public Citizen’s U.S. ChamberWatch program, told ThinkProgress that even some of the fossil fuel utilities have been more open to greenhouse gas regulations and clean energy than the Chamber. “There are a number of companies that are part of the Chamber that would rather lobby than adapt to the urgency of climate change and the fact that we could have economic growth in the clean energy sectors,” he observed. Jewler added, “On the other hand, there’re also utilities that are major players in American energy and are part of the Chamber that think these regulations are fair and flexible enough for them to work with. It’s another case of the Chamber not doing what’s best for the economy or the American people and not representing the full range of businesses in the economy.”
In 2009 and 2010, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and Best Buy distanced themselves from the Chamber over its opposition to climate change action. Several other companies, including Apple, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Yahoo left the trade association over its environmental policies — as did Exelon (the nation’s largest utility). One such former member, Nike, joined with more than 100 other companies in support of the new EPA carbon standards.
Representatives for Best Buy and Microsoft were among several companies who declined to comment; Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond. An inquiry sent to the Chamber’s press office has thus far received no response.