Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chamber Woes Continue: Nike Quits, Media Narrative Grows

Two items of interest today for those following the soap opera that is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's campaign against clean energy.

First, having already issued a strongly-worded rebuke of the Chamber's science-denying campaign against a clean comprehensive clean energy and climate bill, Nike Inc. this morning strapped on a pair of running shoes and hit the road, leaving the Chamber's board of directors in its dust. In a statement, the company criticized the Chamber as having failed to acknowledge that a considerable number of its smart member businesses strongly favor clean energy legislation.

Have any doubt how the membership exodus is being interpreted? Submitted for your review: an article in today's POLITICO:
The announcement is another blow to the business lobby, which has come under intense fire for its position on cap and trade legislation. Over the past two weeks, three major utilities have left the group. Environmentalists heralded the departures as a weakening of the business community's traditional opposition to climate legislation.

On Monday, Chicago-based Exelon Corp. said it would not renew its membership in the Chamber; last week, Pacific Gas & Electric, a major California utility, and PNM Resources, a holding company that includes a large New Mexico utility, withdrew from the group.

A large part of the campaign against Chamber membership stems from the group’s call to launch a “Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st century” about the science of climate change, referring to a 1926 trial that challenged Tennessee law mandating the teaching of the divine creation and forbidding the teaching of evolution.
So that's black eye number one for the day. On to the next: a blunt editorial in today's New York Times calls the Chamber out on its flagrant double-speak when it comes to climate legislation. In a panicky move yesterday, the Chamber posted a statement that appeared to endorse action on clean energy and climate legislation. Somewhat confused? So, apparently, were the authors of the Times editorial:
The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Web site says the group supports “a comprehensive legislative solution” to global warming. Yet no organization in this country has done more to undermine such legislation.

In the last Congress, the chamber attacked the rather modest Lieberman-Warner bill, with a Harry-and-Louise-style commercial. This year, it testified against the House-passed bill limiting greenhouse gases, and it is almost sure to oppose a similar measure that will be introduced this week in the Senate.

Some responsible chamber members are so fed up that they are quitting. First out the door was Pacific Gas & Electric, the big California utility whose chief executive, Peter Darbee, last week lambasted the chamber’s “extreme rhetoric and obstructionist tactics.” Two other big utilities, PNM Resources and Exelon, also announced their intention to leave the organization for similar reasons. While stopping short of quitting, Johnson & Johnson has criticized the chamber’s actions.
Short of a complete mind-body transplant, there's essentially nothing the Chamber can do to greenwash it's way out of the snowballing narrative that most smart and self-respecting businesses are racing to distance themselves from the group's extreme tactics. We fully expect the hits to keep coming.

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