Monday, January 11, 2010

Release the Hounds! Chamber of Commerce to Ratchet Up Anti-Climate Bill Spending for 2010 Elections

At the risk of giving you a case of the Mondays, here's some super cheerful news to start the week.

According to the New York Times, Tom Donohue and the rest of the climate science denier gang at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are planning to double down on their heavy advertising strategy for the 2010 election cycle -- a plan which presumably includes ratcheting up their smear campaign against supporters of a clean energy and climate bill:
The United States Chamber of Commerce, the goliath of the lobbying world, is expected to outline its battle plan next week for the midterms. It spent $25 million on advertisements and get-out-the-vote efforts in the 2006 elections and $36 million in 2008, and will spend far more this year, chamber officials say.
While the U.S. Chamber may run issue-related ads (however misleading those ads may be), it's not allowed to run ads for or against candidates for elected office. However, that may change if the Supreme Court strikes down a number of campaign finance restrictions this week in an expected decision, which would allow the U.S. Chamber to be much more explicit (and assumedly still misleading) in the ads that they run in the 2010 elections.

Need a quick refresher on why more ads from the U.S. Chamber might be less than helpful for the quality of our national dialogue on climate policy? Let's see...

• In August, the Chamber’s Bill Kovacs called for a “Scopes monkey trial” of global warming research, in which a judge would hear arguments from a rogue’s gallery of science deniers that the life’s work of thousands of climate scientists is a complete fabrication.

• Over the course of ensuing month, the Chamber suffered an exodus of major corporate members from its board of directors and, in some cases, its membership rolls altogether who didn’t want to be associated with any such circus. The casualty list included: Apple, Nike, PG & E, Exelon, PNM Resources and a number of smaller companies. Chamber President Tom Donohue’s response? “Bring ‘em on!”

• In October, the Chamber was forced to walk back its repeated claims to represent more than 3 million U.S. businesses. Turns out that’s about a tenfold increase from the true number, 300,000.

• An elite group of only 19 deep-pocketed donors contributed more than one-third of the Chamber’s funding in 2008 (per Greenwire). And when it comes to formulating the Chamber’s policy positions, size matters: an anonymous Chamber member told E&E News in October that “companies with the largest contributions tend to hold more sway with Chamber staff on setting final policy positions.” Any guesses how much ExxonMobil gives to the Chamber? The company sits on the Chamber’s “President’s Advisory Group,” whose members in 2005 gave the Chamber more than $90 million.

• According to an extensive Wonk Room review, the Chamber has spent the last 17 years fighting climate science tooth and nail.

Still unconvinced as to what the Chamber’s coming barrage of climate ads might look like? Take a gander at this throwback gem from the 2007 debate over the Lieberman-Warner clean energy bill:

So, to sum up: be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

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