Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chamber of Commerce Hits Panic Button over Member Exodus

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running major damage control after a string of high-profile member companies quit over its science-denying opposition to a clean energy and climate bill.

In the wake of being dumped by PG&E Corp., PNM Resources and Exelon (as well as strongly rebuked by Nike), the Chamber felt the need to put out a lengthy press release today denying that it opposes clean energy and climate legislation. That's a mighty tall order, considering that each high-profile energy company that's quit the Chamber in recent weeks took the opportunity to do things like call its approach "disingenous" and saying its strategy is comprised of "antics."

The choicest gem contained in the release comes from President and CEO Thomas Donohue's statement:
Some in the environmental movement claim that, because of our opposition to a specific bill or approach, we must be opposed to all efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, or that we deny the existence of any problem. They are dead wrong.
Well, don't take our word for it. Take the word of PG&E Corp. chairman Peter Darbee, who described the Chamber's stance in an open letter entitled "Irreconcilable Differences":
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.
OK, so the Chamber isn't "denying the existence of any problem," it's merely "diminishing or distorting the reality of the challenge." That's much better! In fact, the next time I'm in court, I'll simply pull a Donohue and explain that I wasn't "driving recklessly," I was merely "thirty miles over the speed limit in the right shoulder with my headlights off after dark."

Yet the evidence against Donohue's attempt to greenwash his special interest group gets quite a bit more damning. In a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency this summer - still posted on the Chamber's own Web site, no less (oops?) - the Chamber goes so far as to argue that "warming of even 3ºC in the next 100 years would, on balance, be beneficial to humans."

If that's not science-denying, we don't know what is.

Simply put, the Harry Houdini of press flacks could not talk his way out of this one.

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