Alstom Follows in Duke's Footsteps by Leaving Clean Coal Group

Alstom Follows in Duke's Footsteps by Leaving Clean Coal Group

Coal -- image CC licensed by Flickr user [sic]

A controversial clean-coal trade association lost another member Wednesday over its opposition to climate change legislation currently moving through Congress.

French firm Alstom Power will reportedly leave the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a week after Duke Energy quit because some members of the group refuse to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Also known as the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, the legislation is designed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and by 83 percent by 2050, largely driven by a cap-and-trade program involving the country's largest emitters.

Alstom Power, an equipment and service provider for the electric power generation and rail transport sectors, told ClimateWire it was withdrawing from ACCCE to "remove any doubt about our full support" for the Waxman-Markey bill.

The legislation has created a fault line splitting the business commNunity, with groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on one side working to ignite opposition to the bill, while corporations on the other side have joined forces to create pro-legislation groups, including the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy. General Electric and Caterpillar remain members of both ACCCE and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

Duke Energy, one of the country's biggest utilities and largest users of coal, has been a steady proponent of climate change legislation in the U.S., which led to it breaking ranks with NAM in the Spring, citing budgetary reasons and a difference in opinion in the climate change debate.

Waxman-Markey opponents have courted controversy recently with their efforts to derail the bill, such as the American Petroleum Industry's recruitment of energy sector workers to rally against it at public forums. The Chamber, already at odds with some of its members, made headlines late last month over trying to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to hold a public trial on climate change science, reminiscent of the notorious Scopes Trial of the early 20th century over the teaching of evolution in U.S. public schools. ACCCE was linked to a series of forged letters sent to member of Congress purporting to be from community groups opposed to the Waxman-Markey bill.

"The coal industry has been actively fighting clean energy jobs legislation using any means necessary, including contracting with groups connected to admitted forgery scandals and ethically questionable astroturf campaigns," Bruce Nills, director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said in a statement Wednesday. "Today's announcement by Alstom is just more confirmation that ACCCE has gone too far -- that the thin veneer of concern about the future of our country has cracked to reveal only concern for preserving the dirty status quo for coal." 

Meanwhile, a group of a dozen major U.S. corporations sent an open letter this week to the U.S. Senate calling for climate change legislation and describing how their efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions have improved their bottom lines.

"With this joint letter, we wish to make clear to the American public and their elected officials that leading voices in the business community believe it is in the best interest for the U.S. to act swiftly to address climate change," the companies wrote. "Passing legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions will send a strong signal to the private sector unleashing new business opportunities, leveling the playing field for all U.S. businesses and ensuring that the U.S. economy can compete in growing global markets for clean energy."

Signatories include Bumble Bee Foods, Dell, DuPont, FPL, Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson, JohnsonDiversey, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, PG&E Corp., and Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user [sic].