As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Shrinking Chamber Of Commerce

One of the big unsung stories this year has been the crack-up of the US Chamber of Commerce over the climate change issue. The Chamber is presumably supposed to represent the collective interests of American business, but they've swiftly turned into the key organizing operation for climate denialists. One by one, energy companies aligned with US CAP, the climate-protection collective of various corporations, have dropped out of the Chamber. The latest is Exelon.

Exelon, one of the country’s largest utilities, said Monday that it would quit the United States Chamber of Commerce because of that group’s stance on climate change. It was the latest in a string of companies to do so, perhaps a harbinger of how intense the fight over global warming legislation could become.

“The carbon-based free lunch is over,” said John W. Rowe, Exelon’s chief executive. “Breakthroughs on climate change and improving our society’s energy efficiency are within reach.” [...]

Pacific Gas & Electric, the dominant utility in Northern California, and PNM Resources, a holding company that includes the largest utility in New Mexico, said recently that they would withdraw from the national chamber. Mr. Rowe said Exelon would not renew its membership because of the chamber’s “stridency against carbon legislation.” [...]

What appears to have touched off the utilities’ withdrawals from the chamber was a recent article in The Los Angeles Times that cited chamber officials who called for a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” about the science of climate change. The Scopes trial was a clash of creationists and evolutionists in the 1920s.

Both PG&E and PNM cited the possibility of such a trial as a major concern.

Looks like they got a bit too cute.

It would be beneficial for progressive interests to have a weakened Chamber of Commerce. They are a significant right-wing organization with the illusion of non-partisanship. Exelon and the others probably have their own reasons for leaving - corporate image, or in Exelon's case wanting a bill that expands nuclear power - but the end state of a reduced Chamber is one that should please progressives. It will resonate beyond the climate debate, although obviously it shows a general split between companies with some sense of responsibility and companies with none.

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