Pacific Gas & Electric Rejects U.S.Chamber of Commerce Position on Climate Change

  • Published on September 23rd, 2009

San Francisco based power utility Pacific Gas & Electric has announced it will leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in protest over the organization’s “extreme” position on climate change.

Last month the Chamber of Commerce called for a “trial” on climate science as a means to thwart efforts in Congress to pass climate legislation, stymie the EPA’s endangerment finding regarding CO2 emissions, and needlessly continue to sow discord and confusion over the issue. It is an extremist position with which PG&E apparently wants no association. On a company blog post yesterday entitled Irreconcilable Differences, their position was made clear.

A missed opportunity

In the post, Jonathan Marshall quoted a letter PG&E chairman and CEO Peter Darbee, citing “fundamental differences” over climate change are forcing the company to leave, despite the Chamber’s “long history as a positive force for America’s businesses and its economy.”

But the idea of holding a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century,” as the Chamber thought to characterize it, is beyond the pale for Darbee and, he said, does not represent the range of opinion among Chamber members.

“We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored,” Darbee wrote. “In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.”

PG&E is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and Darbee made a sharp distinction between its “constructive, consensus-driven” approach and that of the Chamber, saying that the Chamber has effectively passed up its chance of a leadership role on an important issue.

“I fear it has forfeited an incredible chance to play a constructive leadership role on one of the most important issues our country may ever face,” Darbee said

Nike to follow suit

Writing in his blog for the NRDC, Peter Altman says that Nike is fed up as well with the Chamber’s “recalcitrant position on climate policy.” Yesterday, Nike released a statement saying in part:

“Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber’s recently filed petition challenging the EPA’s administrative authority and action on this critically important issue.

Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions to address the issue. It is not a time for debate but instead a time for action and we believe the Chamber’s recent petition sets back important work currently being undertaken by EPA on this issue.”

Power companies abandon the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

In tandem with businesses voicing their frustration over the backward and obstructionist position taken by the Chamber of Commerce is the news that other major power companies have had it with the scandal-ridden American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy, a lobbying group of the coal industry.

Earlier this month both Duke Energy and Alstom left the ACCCE in protest over the organization’s position on climate change.

Lead, follow, or we’ll just go around you

Many continue to hold fast to the notion that government “interference” by way of climate change regulation and legislation will thwart business growth. Yet it seems that a growing number of businesses are increasingly fed up with their own advocacy groups over climate change, and reject the idea that the status quo or “business as usual” will work any longer. Forward-thinking and innovative companies will be the ones that create a livable and prosperous future, and it is up to those companies and their leaders to make clear to organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the ACCCE that their recalcitrance and deception is no longer acceptable.

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About the Author

is an online publisher, editor, and freelance writer. He is the founder of and the History Blog Project, as well as publisher and site director for the Tom also contributes to numerous environmental blogs, including TriplePundit, Ecopolitology, Sustainablog, and Planetsave.   Tom's work has led him to Europe, Africa, Latin America, Canada, the South Pacific, and across the United States. His home base is San Francisco, California.