So now America’s biggest business lobby and late-night comic David Letterman have something in common: They have really, really embarrassed themselves.
Of course, there are significant differences between Letterman’s womanizing and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s backward-looking opposition to climate-change legislation, which is causing the chamber to lose members, prestige and, worst of all, clout.
For one thing, the chamber’s blunder was entirely unnecessary.
For another, the chamber has yet to apologize.
But the bottom line is that the chamber is embarrassed, or should be. It has lost a number of high profile members – utility companies Exelon, PG&E and PNM Resources and, most recently, Apple, whose image as a forward-looking company left the chamber looking stuck in the past. (One clever headline put it, Apple, citing climate, tells U.S. Chamber iQuit) A Nike executive resigned from the chamber board. Today’s New York Times and Washington Post featured full-page ads from big companies and environmentalists calling upon the U.S. Senate to “pass clean energy legislation with a cap on greenhouse gas emissions this year.” The ads were signed by, among others, Dow, Exelon, United Technologies, Duke Energy, GE, Weyerhauser, Constellation Energy, Interface, PSEG, Deutsche Bank, Entergy, Johnson Controls and NRG. That was a direct slap at the chamber, too.
Chamber CEO Tom Donahue can’t say he wasn’t warned.
Consider the fact that more than two and half years ago–on January 22, 2007, to be precise—the CEOS of some of the chamber’s most important, high-profile members—GE’s Jeff Immelt, DuPont’s Chad Holliday, Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers, among them—stood besides some of America’s most important environmentalists, including Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund and Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute, to declare that anthropogenic global warming is a problem and
to call on the federal government to enact legislation requiring significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.