Monday, August 2, 2010

Circular Firing Squad at the Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Issues

The big-business lobbyists at the mammoth U.S. Chamber of Commerce are apparently fighting a bit of a civil war these days over global warming.

As Mother Jones reports, the Chamber's national office - which has called for a "Scopes monkey trial" of climate science - is engaging in a public relations campaign to discredit some of its own local chambers of commerce. What offense did these dozen or so local chambers commit? Why, calling for action on clean energy of course! Per MoJo:
A new split over climate policy is brewing within the ranks of the US Chamber of Commerce as a breakaway group of local chambers is getting ready to publicly split with the business lobby's hardline stance against climate legislation. The new climate coalition, known as the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE), will press Congress to take stronger action on climate and energy issues. It has already signed up about a dozen chambers and will officially launch later this year.

The US Chamber is already working behind the scenes to discredit the new group. After it caught wind of the effort last month, it fired off a letter to local chamber leaders, discouraging them from joining CICE, which it claimed was "established by the Natural Resources Defense Council." The letter, written by US Chamber board member Winthrop Hallett, the president of Alabama's Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, states that the new group's "indirect purpose appears to be undermining the U.S. Chamber's and the business community's leadership on" climate issues.
Oh goodness, where to begin...

Well first of all, kudos to the local chambers willing to take a stand against their national office. They join other innovative businesses like Best Buy, Microsoft and Apple in splitting with the U.S. Chamber's anti-science stand against clean energy. Also, Chamber president Tom Donahue is both a frightening and a very confused man, so crossing him is not a step to be taken lightly.

Second of all, in true Chamber fashion (see Dylan Ratigan's "you talk nonsense" line), the charge about a link with NRDC appears to be, well, just sort of made up:
The claim that CICE is little more than a front group for the NRDC is "outrageous" and "really just pissed me off," says Steve Falk, the president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which has been organizing the independent climate coalition. Hallett's letter, which has not been posted publicly but which Mother Jones has seen, does not explain the alleged connection between CICE and the NRDC. Hallett and a spokesman for the US Chamber did not respond to requests for comment.
And third, let's focus on the part where Hallett says the new group's purpose is "undermining the U.S. Chamber's and the business community's leadership" on climate issues.

Really? The group of local chambers standing up to Tom Donahue and his anti-science thugs who have blocked clean energy action for decades is the group that's "undermining leadership?" Unless she's referring to the $123 million the Chamber spent on lobbying in 2009 trying to block essentially every legislative priority of the Obama administration, this R?S?er is not sure what "leadership" Hallett could possibly be referencing.

We've been at this debunking thing a while now, but the U.S. Chamber truly never ceases to amaze.

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