PG&E Quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Nike Fed Up Too

PG&E Quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Nike Fed Up Too
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Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced today that the utility giant is dumping its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing the business group’s “extreme position on climate change.”

Announcing the pull-out in a company blog titled “Irreconcilable Differences,” PG&E says that its Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Darbee told the Chamber in a letter today that:

“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. 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.”

Bravo to PG&E for taking a stand.

Pete Altman at NRDC reports that Nike is equally displeased with the U.S. Chamber’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change threats.  The company issued a statement yesterday stating that Nike “fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change.”

Referring to the U.S. Chamber’s recent boneheaded call for the EPA to hold “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to debate whether climate change is man-made, Nike berates the Chamber in its statement:

“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.”  

There is little chance that the Chamber will suddenly stop working on behalf of its major fossil fuel constituent companies to kill the climate bill.  The Chamber is much too stubborn for that.

Nike should take a queue from PG&E and exit the Chamber’s roster immediately, and hopefully others will follow.

As Daily Kos contributor David Brodwin observes:
“This crucial announcement from PG&E is the beginning of a massive reframing, away from jobs vs. polar bears, and focusing on the growing divide within the business community: innovative and forward-looking companies that “get it” vs. old line extraction companies that cling to the past.”  

It is up to conscientious companies like PG&E and the recent defectors from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity to distance their companies from the Chamber and all industry front groups fighting to protect the status quo. 

A lot of companies who pay dues to the Chamber have stated their commitment to work on passing meaningful clean energy legislation.  If they are genuine in that conviction, they must cancel all memberships with the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and any other group working to derail federal action on climate.

PG&E has broken the seal by leaving the Chamber.  Who will be next?

Read the PG&E statement “Irreconcilable Differences.”

PG&E Quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Nike Fed Up Too
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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