U.S. Chamber's Rowe Sets Climate Change Policy Straight

As reports of Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric, and PNM Resources deciding to end their memberships at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surfaced, Thomas J. Donohue, the group's president and chief executive officer, issued a statement about the Chamber's stance on climate change.

On Tuesday, Donohue said, "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to support strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change.

"We believe that in order to succeed, any climate change response must include all major CO2-emitting economies, promote new technologies, emphasize efficiency, ensure affordable energy for families and businesses, and help create American jobs and return our economy to prosperity. The Congress should carefully deliberate on and enact legislation that meets these goals.

"We also have called upon the United States to join with other nations to negotiate a new international agreement that sets binding CO2 reduction commitments for each nation, while allowing each to devise its own best path to meeting its target.

Donohue added that Congress, not EPA should set climate change policy through legislation. But that the Chamber opposes the Waxman-Markey bill because it doesn't meet its requirements: it is neither comprehensive nor international and "falls short on moving renewable and alternative technologies into the marketplace.

"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.

To read more details on the Chamber's position, visit www.uschamber.com/issues/index/environment/five_positions.

Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund's National Climate Campaign, called the statement "a tap dance." He added that "just a month ago, [Donohue's] 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.

Noting that the Chamber has lost Chicago-based Exelon, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Public Service Company of New Mexico, Cochran said that "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.”

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