Saturday, October 17, 2009

To Shell: Which side are you on?

That question is circulating today after after Royal Dutch Shell PLC Chairman Jorma Ollila said that, while Shell does not agree with the climate change stance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Shell would most likely not be leaving the trade association.

And the flip-flopping season is officially underway.

According to E&E News (subscription required): "Ollila said there would have to be 'extreme' disagreement over policy before Shell would resign from an industry trade group."

Apparently you being on the opposite extreme of the group you are part of is not extreme enough.

Ollila continued (via E&E News)
"You don't come and go from an industry association depending on some of the news," Ollila replied when asked whether the chamber speaks for Shell on climate policy. "Industry associations are important to get our point of view heard."
Really, sir? Because the list of groups that have done just that to the Chamber is extensive and prominent.

The interesting thing about Shell is that, on paper, the company is pretty good on the environment (minus the whole oil drilling thing, of course). Also from E&E:

"Jorma, who declined to comment further on the issue, is the incoming chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The Geneva-based organization of 200 major companies is urging U.N. members to agree on firm, long-term emissions limits in a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Shell, which is based in The Hague, is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. The coalition of blue-chip companies and environmental groups is lobbying Congress to pass emissions cap-and-trade legislation as soon as possible."
Jorma went on to say that Shell and the Chamber disagree on climate change and that Shell's position has become clear. What has become clear is, well, not much actually. Shell is starting to sound a lot like the Chamber itself: good at talking a big game, better at playing for the other team. And then the giant elephant in the room cannot be ignored either: this is an large oil company we're talking about.

Let's not pretend the truth is important.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oops? Chamber's "20 Million Jobs" Push Leaves a Few States Unemployed

As we recently discussed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its CEO, Thomas Donohue, spend a lot of time talking out of both sides of their mouths.

On climate change, despite calling for a Scopes-monkey proceeding that would put the settled science of global warming "on trial," Donohue claims the group is still "committed" to passing legislation to fight climate change.

On jobs, after taking $20 million from the bankrupt speculators at AIG, Donohue's now launching a slick campaign claiming the de-regulation principles the Chamber supports will create 20 million jobs in the next two decades. (Fun fact: the Chamber's campaign website is being paid for in no small part by Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Health Insurance companies)

So as *close* followers of the Chamber's antics, we've seen quite a bit. Yet even we were shocked when a little curiosity led us to the Chamber's map outlining its job creation goals for the United States. Some states had rather ambitious goals: California? 4.1 million. Texas? 2.1 million. So let's see, how about... Wyoming?

Zero.

Huh? What about North Dakota?

Zero.

South Dakota? The District of Columbia?

Zero and zero.

This rosy outlook for three U.S. states and the District comes after what Donohue calls "meticulous research" and a $25 million annual budget for the campaign (the Chamber, via Politico):

Organizers say the multimillion-dollar program will include grass-roots mobilization, national advertising, public education, outreach to opinion leaders and extensive involvement by young people.
“Since we announced plans for the campaign in June, we’ve been holding listening sessions with small-business owners, heads of state and local chambers, Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of trade associations [and] Washington political and press types, and we’ve built a one-of-a-kind, far-reaching campaign to promote free enterprise,” said Tita Freeman, the Chamber’s vice president of communications and strategy.

Chamber to North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and D.C.: after months of meticulous research, we've concluded you're hopeless.

Cheers.
Also, check out some more debunks of the Chamber's smoke-and-mirrors campaign here and here.

(BTW: The American Clean Energy and Security Act is estimated to create 4,257 jobs in North Dakota, 5,272 in South Dakota, 3,522 in Wyoming, and 5,514 in D.C.)

Bonner & Associates Called Into Mr. Markey's Office

Continuing coverage of this summer's favorite 'Astroturf' (as opposed to grassroots) scandal, a Congressional panel will hold an investigative hearing this week to examine at the forged letters sent by DC lobbying shop Bonner Associates to Members of Congress during the House climate debate. You may recall that Bonner impersonated minority, veteran and senior citizen groups in sending opposing letters, setting off the Congressional investigation.

Bonner was acting on behalf of its client the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which, in its short time in existence, has joined the pantheon of polluting front groups opposing clean energy reform. Then again, they have also provided us with perhaps the greatest unintentionally lame propaganda video of all time.

Rep. Ed Markey (MA), lead sponsor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, will be running the hearing in his role as Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Per Mr. Markey's office:
“The Select Committee has now discovered more than a dozen fraudulent letters that were sent to several members of Congress as part of an ‘Astroturf’ campaign run by the firm, Bonner & Associates, and contracted by the American Clean Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity,” a news release from Markey’s office states. “This campaign was designed to influence members of Congress on the House-passed Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill.”
We will be covering the hearing tomorrow live on LCV's Twitter feed. Be sure to follow us if you don't already - this should be a doozy.

Another group exiting the U.S. Chamber?

Speculation is swirling that MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, a holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman will leave the U.S. Chamber of Congress over, you guessed it, the organization's climate change policy.

According to the Huffington Post:
Executives at MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, which owns significant stakes in a range of companies, most notably cosmetics maker Revlon, have been holding internal discussions on whether to pull out of the chamber over its recent challenge to the Clean Air Act.
A spokesperson said that the company is concerned about the Chamber's climate change policy.
"There have been internal discussions about making our position known, meaning that we would like the chamber to have a different point of view," said spokeswoman Christine M. Taylor. The chamber's position on climate change "is a concern of ours," she said.

"We want to be on the right side. We're supporters of clean energy, environmental protection -- Ronald [Perelman] is involved with the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council]. We want to state our position," Taylor said.
Most businesses would consider it a wakeup call when the largest, biggest-named corporations wants nothing to do with them. Today even saw a Bush-era memo released showing the administration blatantly ignored the calls for legislation years ago. Yet the Chamber continues with its tried and failed policies, then wonders why it continues to fall apart.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chamber Jobs Plan Not Really A Plan, Remain Confused on Climate

Tom Donahue and the global warming deniers at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are launching a new campaign today, designed to create 20 million jobs in the next decade.

We, of course, would applaud this mammoth effort, were it akin to anything other than hot air. You see, the Chamber is good at talking and campaigning, short on on substance. From Politico:
“We’ve said this is the most significant campaign we’ve ever undertaken, so we’re treating this announcement like none other in the Chamber’s history,” she said. “We have print and online ads running to build buzz as we lead up to the launch.”
In other words, the Chamber is spending a bunch of money talking about their campaign, with no details as to what it is. Here are some details for you: the Chamber opposes comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation, that at minimum would help create nearly one-tenth of the jobs it is aiming for. There must be more you say? Well, here is what the Chamber views as the scope of all this:
"This effort is about something much bigger than business, much bigger than policy,” she said. “It’s about the business community working to solve our nation’s greatest challenge, which is creating the 20 million new jobs America will need over the next decade."
We sure hope it is bigger than business, since the Chamber seems to keep losing the support of big businesses. Apple, Nike, Exelon, PG&E and PNM Resources, all companies with the ability to create jobs, are at odds with the Chamber over its opposition to doing just that.

There's no questioning Donahue and the Chamber's "21st century" global warming stance - you remember, the one that called for a "Scopes Monkey Trial" on the issue. The Chamber, reeling in the face of a firestorm about their hemmoraghing of members over their archaic position on climate change, is good at spending money to save face. But we're not holding our breath that this is simply an empty bait and switch tactic to take the focus off their rapidly crumbing influence in Washington, all as a result of Mr. Donahue's shockingly backwards mentality on the issue of global warming and clean energy.