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Environmental Defense Fund Joins Critics of US Chamber of Commerce

Posted by sbopp at September 30, 2009 11:00 AM |

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today joined a chorus of criticism of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the latter group’s position on clean energy legislation.

Following heavy public criticism and the departure of several members, Thomas Donahue, president and CEO of the Chamber, had issued a statement about climate change. It read, in part: “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. The Chamber has in its public documents, Hill letters and testimony, as well as dozens of concrete policy recommendations, supported efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere while keeping our economy healthy.”

In response, Steve Cochran, director of EDF’s National Climate Campaign, wrote:

“Donahue says it is ‘dead wrong’ that the Chamber is opposed to efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. But just a month ago, his senior vice president, William Kovacs, publicly demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency hold a hearing to put the ‘science of climate change on trial.’ Kovacs also told the media the hearing would be ‘the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century … It would be evolution versus creationism.’ There could not be a clearer repudiation of Donahue’s claims than that.

“Donahue also blames environmentalists for his predicament when he says, ‘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.’ But it’s not the environmental movement that’s opposing Donahue – it’s his own membership.”

About the companies that have quit the Chamber or publicly criticized it -- Chicago-based Exelon, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), Johnson & Johnson and Nike – Cochran wrote: “These companies have made it clear that the Chamber is not representing their best interests when it opposes legislation that will create both jobs and profits in the lucrative new clean energy economic sector.”

Finally, Cochran wrote: “Donahue also says the Chamber is leading the fight to clear the roadblocks that are delaying renewable energy development. But right now, the biggest roadblock to renewable energy development is the Chamber of Commerce itself, and its relentless attempts to undermine every good faith effort to create a new American energy policy. If Donahue wants us to take his claims seriously, he should start by talking to his own membership about why so many businesses think a clean energy bill is a good idea. Then he needs to make sure the Chamber’s policies reflect the views of those businesses. Visionary American companies will undoubtedly be international leaders in the 21st century clean energy economy; the question is whether the Chamber will lead with them, or become a business relic like the phonograph or the pony express.”

-- Suzanne Bopp

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