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:

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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