The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Chamber of Commerce Faces Intense Pressure Over Extreme Climate Position

Wed, 2009-10-14 15:09Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Chamber of Commerce Faces Intense Pressure Over Extreme Climate Position

It turns out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce only has 300,000 members, not the “more than 3 million” it claimed to represent just a day ago, before Mother Jones magazine questioned the business lobby’s inflated numbers.

The Chamber has now “quietly backed off” the 3 million figure, according to Mother Jones, which reports today that:

Since 1997, the “3 million” figure has appeared in print more than 200 times in newspapers and broadcast outlets of all sizes…
By contrast, the 300,000 figure, which appears nowhere on the Chamber’s website, is cited in the news database Lexis-Nexis only three times–infrequently enough to be mistaken for a typo.”

Getting called out for such “semantic tricks” is the least of the Chamber’s problems these days.

The Huffington Post reports that MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, the holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman, is debating whether to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its extreme climate position and recent “Scopes Monkey Trial” challenge to the EPA over the Clean Air Act.

The Chamber has been losing members – real members out of its actual 300,000 or less total – at a rate of several each week lately.  Apple was the most recent in a string of high-profile defections including Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and PSEG

The exodus has weakened the Chamber’s credibility on the Hill at a critical time when business leaders are descending on Washington to lobby Congress to pass strong climate and energy legislation. Pete Altman at NRDC’s Switchboard blog has compiled a running tally of editorials from around the country criticizing the Chamber’s intransigence on climate change in a post titled “The U.S. Chamber’s Continuing Climate Credibility Crisis.”

Even the White House has joined in the Chamber pile-on.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters “it’s wonderful” to see so many companies quit the Chamber of Commerce. “I think companies like that - Exelon and others - are saying we have recognized the reality,” Chu said. “They are saying we can’t be a party to this denial and foot-dragging.”

“I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to realize the economic opportunity that the United States can lead in a new industrial revolution,” Chu said.

Pressure is now building on the Chamber from multiple fronts.

Green Century Capital Management, which manages environmentally friendly mutual funds, and a group of investment-focused organizations sent letters this week to 14 corporations urging them to end their Chamber memberships (and in many cases their memberships with the National Association of Manufacturers).  Read the letters over at EnviroKnow.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Council, which represents around 300 IT and tech employers including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, joined with the Environmental Defense Action Fund and Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network on a print ad campaign this week urging the Chamber to change its ways and support climate legislation in Congress.

“Silicon Valley is ready to lead the world in the next great technological revolution: clean energy,” the ad states. “That’s why we’ve been so disappointed by the opposition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to clean energy legislation now moving through Congress.”

A coalition of progressive activists and attorneys just launched this week as well, knocking not only the Chamber’s climate position, but also its role as “an extremist political organization dedicated to corrupting American democracy by elevating the profits of big corporations over the well being of the citizens they serve.”  The campaign is calling on Congress to investigate the Chamber on multiple fronts, including fraud, false tax filings and campaign finance violations.

But the Chamber’s backwards stance on climate change remains the focus of most critics at present.  Mother Jones magazine has done several excellent pieces recently explaining why, including an article titled “Inside the Chamber of Carbon.” The piece notes that the Chamber’s “aggressively narrow climate policy” may violate its own policy-making process since the full board of directors never formally voted on the matter, as is customarily required by the Chamber’s procedures.  Chamber CEO Tom Donohue rebuts that argument, telling reporters that the board voted on climate issues, but they were part of a ‘consent calendar’ where members voted on several items at once.  (Sounds sort of like a Congressional rider or earmark where pet projects are tacked onto larger bills and never face sunshine or scrutiny by the full membership.)

A Chamber insider told E&E news that the real thrust of the Chamber’s campaign to derail the House-passed energy and climate bill came from some of the group’s major donors, who worked behind the scenes to influence Chamber activities through staff-level contact.  “Companies with the largest contributions tend to hold more sway with chamber staff on setting final policy positions,” according to the anonymous official.

Despite the growing pressure to change its ways, the Chamber remains stuck in the past, clinging to its diminishing role as ‘the voice of business,’ while many major U.S. businesses leave it behind to forge ahead on climate and energy solutions.

“If people want to attack us, bring em on,” Chamber CEO Tom Donohue told reporters.

“We are not changing where we are,” he said. “We’ve thought long and hard about what is important here and we are not going anywhere.”

How long will that intransigence hold up?  Will the Chamber remain relevant, or become the laughing stock of Washington, representing a dying breed of angry fossil-fuel-dependent industrialists?



"I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to realize the economic opportunity that the United States can lead in a new industrial revolution," Chu said.

Okay - Chu is like 1000 times smarter than me so it's about time to get going on this "opportunity" for a new industrial revolution. quit talkin and start walkin. Quit campaigning for the job of bringing on the revolution - you're hired already. Lets see what you got.

No, I'm not smart like Chu, but so far I say he's got nothin. He needs to start proving guys like me wrong.

Keep reading: you’re on the verge of proving yourself wrong.

What makes me different from almost everyone on both sides is that I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of being fundamentally wrong about the future of climate.

The trouble with the future is none of us have been there yet and there are guaranteed to be some major surprises and as always scientific consensus will have to change to some new understanding of how things work. It's a basic lesson of history.

If he was confident of an EPA victory, he would say so. His diatrabe is what one would expect from a guy with a losing hand.

The IPCC "science" will be torn apart on the witness stand.. Lets start with how they rewrite the scientific conclusions and give hyped political ones. Lots of witnesses to prove that point. Remember the oil for food program for Saddam? The UN is corrupt. Everyone knows this.

What is the crediblity of those who constantly lie and yet hold onto public positions such as the chamber of commerce? Doesn't that mean anything any more? Something is lost in all this. There is no longer an honest debate, instead just pure distortion. The wealthiest people support this kind of discussion? Who are they to act this way?

The EPA is required by LAW to develop its own science for regulation of health or environmental hazards.

For the EPA to refer to the IPCC science which is a non peer reviewed, falsified process, is breaking the law.

I applaud the upholding of law by the Chamber of Commerce. I wish you warmists would stop drinking cool aid and wake up to how bad the science is.

But then, you probably believe the Catlin arctic expedition hype.. pure bullshite put on by an insurance company wanting to insure against climate change.(but warmists will beleive anything!)

What a load of crap. You are telling lies, EdB.

The EPA is disobeying its own written mandate by using IPCC as its science source.

The legal case is easy to win.

Of course, there is no IPCC science to support AGW, there is only bogus hockey sticks and falsified "summaries".

The truth will come out.. just like the UN Oil for Food.. the UN is corrupted by money and power.

The alarmist don't yet know their ship is sinking... let the band play on... the cool aid is wonderful!

Lies, EdB. If you were telling the truth you would produce credible links to back up your statements. But you have nothing.

Or maybe a newbie..

here is some text:(there is no way the IPCC meets EPA standards. A court win is a slam dunk)

Section 6.3:
EPA recognizes that influential scientific, financial, or statistical
information should be subject to a higher degree of quality than information that may not have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions. A higher degree of transparency about data and methods will facilitate the reproducibility of such information by qualified third
parties, to an acceptable degree of imprecision. For disseminated
influential original and supporting data, EPA intends to ensure
reproducibility according to commonly accepted scientific, financial, or statistical standards. It is important that analytic results for influential information have a higher degree of transparency regarding (1) the source of the data used, (2) the various assumptions employed, (3) the analytic methods applied, and (4) the statistical procedures employed. It is also important that the degree of rigor with which each of these factors is presented and discussed be scaled as appropriate, and that all factors be presented and discussed. In addition, if access to data and methods cannot occur due to compelling interests such as privacy, trade secrets, intellectual property, and other confidentiality protections, EPA should, to the extent practicable, apply especially rigorous robustness checks to
analytic results and carefully document all checks that were undertaken.

And where is any reference there to the IPCC? You don't actually understand how the IPCC works, do you. Or the EPA.

Does anybody understand how the IPCC works? It's parent organization is a scandal ridden political nightmare that coddles dictators and tries to be a world government. Everything the UN is involved with should be viewed with some skepticism at the very least.

A wanabe world government needs to find a way to increase power. World climate is a convenient concern for them.

Moreover, I wonder why there is a need for an international panel to hold forth on climate in the first place. Why do they have to form a big club? Wouldn't it be better for scientists around the world to pursue full independence from each other and avoid the optics of collusion, especially under the umbrella of a notably corrupt organization like the UN?

just asking

There is a need for the governments of the world to act together in this crisis. The scientists point out what is happening; the governments have to decide what policies to pursue. The problem is when we get dishonest and ignorant people in government, such as many of Harper's Cabinet Ministers who cannot distinguish reality from their religious and political biases.

And really, where do you get this paranoid nonsense about one world government? From the US rightwing fundamentalists? Oooh, scary!

A government is a power structure with varying degrees of authority. The UN is set up like an international government but it's authority is generally weak. That can change if a pretext can be found.

The UN hardly has a monopoly on scariness as a governing authority but it does have a solid history of placating dictators and winking at severe brutality. They have a lovely history of their peacekeeping soldiers raping countless young African girls and of course other deep deep corruption involving oil for food for money for terror treachery.

UN - Is that the best we can do?

So do member governments such as the US.

It is corrupt.

It has corrupted the IPCC scintific process by using Mann's non peer reviewed paper re the hockey stick and has used political appointees to re-write the scientific findings.(juice them up)

So.. the UN is not fit to rule the world. I'll stick to Canadian politicians, warts and all.

Except that the complaint from the scientists whose peer-reviewed work was used to create the IPCC summary for policy etc etc etc is that the political appointees watered down their conclusions and soft-pedalled the urgency of the situation.

But this is a complete waste of time. Nothing that I say will make a jot of difference. I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that you think that gun control is a bad thing, that the free-market should dictate the economy and that the whole AGW thing is a commie plot. Somebody is trying to limit your freedoms and by god you aren't going to stand for it. Because that's what this all boils down to. Deniers, in my experience, turn out to be people who are anti-regulatory, free-market, profit-driven ideologues who see pinkos under every bed.

Well, guess what, Ed. Science doesn't give a s--t about politics. It is what it is. And the science is pretty damned solid. CO2 won't stop behaving like CO2 in the atmosphere no matter what you and Shooshmon and pholgiston and PaulS think. It's that simple, and we have known about it for 150 years.

What the hell. I'm going to go read a good book.


But you need to accept some fact on meddling at IPCC:(I'll bet Al Gore's hands are on this, via the State Deaprtment)

Letter to Science: Changes in the Climate Change Report
July 3, 1996

The controversial text changes (News & Comments, 21 June) made in "Climate Change 1995," the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [1], point to a possible distortion of science for political purposes. If the IPCC conclusions are accepted by governments as being based on solid science and lead to global controls on energy use and generation, drastic economic consequences would follow, impacting mainly on the world's poor.

Dr. Benjamin Santer, convening lead author of Chapter 8, admits to making the actual changes between the final approval of the report in Madrid (in November 1995} and its printing (in May 1996), because "reviewers requested them" [2]. This statement obviously calls for considerable amplification.

The legality of the procedure is still in dispute [3]. It is not clear, for example, who else was involved in making the changes, who decided that changes were necessary, and who approved or edited the changes before the book was printed [4].

Following its own investigation, Nature reports that the responsibility for disputed changes lies with "IPCC officials" [5]. A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial states on credible authority that the changes "were made at the request of State Department officials, not scientists" [6]. A news story in Nature [7] confirms that a State Department letter of November 15, 1995 "endorsed" changes in the report, but does not explain how the State Department derives such authority.

Did "scientific cleansing" change the tone of the report? The IPCC says No. Nature [5], while clearly favoring the IPCC and impugning its critics, nevertheless concludes that "there is some evidence that the revision process did result in a subtle shift ... [that] tended to favour arguments that aligned with the report's broad conclusions." (Critics of the IPCC would have used much stronger words). The Nature article further admits that "phrases that might have been (mis)interpreted as undermining these conclusions have disappeared" [5].

Why were these changes made? Santer says he "fine-tuned the wording to bring the report into line with the scientific consensus" [2] (emphasis added). IPCC officials quoted by Nature claim the reason for the revisions was "to ensure that it conformed to a `policymakers' summary' of the full report..." [5].

Their claim raises the obvious question: Should not a summary conform to the underlying scientific report rather than vice versa? More important, the policymakers' summary is a political consensus of government delegations not a scientific one. The several pages of the Summary--drafted by the IPCC leadership--were tortuously discussed, line by line, in three days of plenary sessions in Madrid [8].

Why were IPCC officials so anxious to make the scientific report conform to the Summary once its wording had been hammered out? In my view, there may have been two reasons:

1. In the past, the IPCC had been severely criticized in connection with their first climate assessment report of 1990 (and its 1992 addendum), when that earlier Summary clearly departed from the underlying scientific report, thereby portraying the warming issue as much more serious than the data permitted [9].

2. A more basic reason may be that the Summary contains so little to back the political claim of a global warming threat. Ever economical with the truth, the Summary presents the underlying facts selectively and omits relevant information [10]. For example, the Summary does not even mention the existence of 18 years of weather satellite data that show a slight global cooling trend, contradicting all theoretical models of climate warming [11].

In its earlier reports [12], the IPCC used the artful phrase that data and climate models were "broadly consistent." This phrase has now been abandoned. In 1996 [13], it seems to be "balance of evidence for a discernible human influence" on climate. Nothing is new here; we have known for some years that the stratosphere is cooling [14], that the diurnal temperature range has been decreasing [15], etc.--most likely as the result of human influence.

But even if a "discernible human influence" were to exist [16] in the surface temperature record, this does not mean that greenhouse warming will occur at anywhere near the rapid rate calculated from current climate models--although this is exactly what many will be led to believe when they read the Summary and altered report.

is based on a letter written more than 14 years ago. You are aware, I suppose, that there has been a great deal of work carried out in the meantime? Much of it is summarized in the most recent IPCC Report, but even since then it is piling up big-time. You twiddle and fret over a few statistical "irregularities" that McIntyre teased out of Mann's work ages ago, but dismiss as suspect the research being carried out in the present around the world that confirms not only that the climate is warming, but that it is happening more quickly than anticipated and with greater impact.

You are fixated on this notion that somehow the UN could conscript the entire scientific community worldwide to fabricate a catastrophic scenario that would enable it to impose world government. Come on. Who exactly is "drinking the Kool-aid" here?

You are.

The Chamber is acting like it did under George W. That worked then, it doesn't work now. They need to listen to what is going on and not take unsupportable positions on issues that have already passed them by.

If you have read McIntyres second hockey stick demolition you would know that the AGW case is hockey puck.

The entire "science" showing "unprecedented" warming from proxies is in turmoil. Dozens and dozens of papers will have to be withdrawn, or ignored. The warmist team has been caught cheating(again) by manipulating data to give the warming "signature" desired, ie, the upwards curved temperature hockey stick. Please read Climate Audit and learn about the years of roadblocks the warmist team put in place to stop anyone from reviewing their work. Only fraudsters put up roadblocks. The proper peer review simply was not done.(how could it when the reviewers were not given the data or methods)