By: Tina Casey
There they go again: just one day before Nike, Starbucks, and a slew of clean energy companies are uniting with labor leaders to launch the Race for American Jobs in support of green jobs related to climate and clean energy policies, environmentalleader.com reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed a petition challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act.
Nike has already resigned its position on the Chamber’s board over the organization’s backward-looking environmental policies. Other major companies have withdrawn outright because of the Chamber’s over-the-top lobbying. Last fall Apple and Exelon (the nation’s largest utility company) quit in protest, along with utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources. Leading paper company Mohawk also withdrew, telling the Associated Press that the Chamber’s naysayer position on climate change was hurting the company’s cred on environmental issues. With friends like these, right?
About that Greenhouse Gas Lobbying Activity
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Chamber spent a record $34.7 million on lobbying just in the third quarter of last year, and a good chunk of that went to promoting action against climate change legislation. As chronicled in detail by Lee Fang of thinkprogress.com, the Chamber of Commerce has become a virtual chamber of know-nothings on climate policy, even to the point of threatening to put climate science on trial. That might not work out so well for them — after all, the last time anti-science hysteria went on trial it was the Scopes case over Darwin’s theory of evolution (calling Spencer Tracy!)
About those Green Jobs
As the defections by Exelon, Apple and others indicate, the Chamber has become a sort of many-headed Hydra, with some of the heads rushing blindly out the door to defend the status quo (namely fossil fuels), heedless of the fact that the others are getting smashed against the door frame. It’s a big headache for the many companies that have pitched their resources toward environmental responsibility, and the irony is that sustainability related jobs are one of the rare bright spots in the economy. Solar, wind, and other forms of sustainable energy are creating new green jobs even in the heart of the Rust Belt. Some of the new biofuel processes also use captured waste carbon, which dovetails perfectly with the cap-and-trade concept of turning carbon liabilities into an asset.
Race for American (Green) Jobs
The goal behind Race for American Jobs is to gather business leader support for federal climate and energy legislation, and it will continue on from Tuesday February 16 to March 10, when organizers will meet with legislators and the Obama administration. A webcast of Tuesday’s kickoff event will be available on www.wecanlead.org/race. It’s sponsored by We Can Lead of Ceres, a coalition of business luminaries including Nike, Starbucks, Sun Microsystems, Levi Strauss & Co., eBay, Gap Inc., and – well, let’s just say in your face, Chamber of Commerce.
Image: Gavel by walksnboston on flickr.com.