PG&E Ditches U.S. Chamber of Commerce for Anti-Climate Bill Efforts

PG&E Ditches U.S. Chamber of Commerce for Anti-Climate Bill Efforts

Another high-profile company is washing its hands of a major trade group over its opposition to a climate change bill working its way through Congress.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the Northern California utility, said today it is leaving the Chamber over what it calls the Chamber's extreme position on climate change. Just weeks before, Duke Energy and Alstom Power left another trade group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE), over its efforts to defeat the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also referred to as the Waxman-Markey bill.

The Chamber found itself in the spotlight over the summer due to its legal threat to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into holding a public trial on the validity of climate change science. The Chamber’s vice president for the environment, technology and regulatory affairs likened such an event to the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, which focused on the science of evolution and its teaching in schools. The Chamber executive later backtracked on the analogy, deeming it “inappropriate.”

In a letter to the Chamber, PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee criticized the trade group’s stance:

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.

The Chamber has also caught some flack from other members this year over its anti-climate bill moves, including Nike and Johnson & Johnson. Both are also members of other trade coalitions advocating strong climate change legislation, such as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.

"The Chamber's extreme views about climate science are leaving it increasingly isolated and alienating its membership," Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. "It's also a head-scratcher, because the science is so clear and the needed response is so attractive from a business perspective. A responsible strategy to address climate change will create investment, growth and market opportunities for so many of the companies that once relied on the Chamber to illuminate the future."

Duke, which also dissolved its membership earlier this year with the National Association of Manufacturers, another climate law opponent, is still on the board of directors at the Chamber.