The US Chamber of Commerce, which claims to be the voice of business, lost a big member this week—PG&E energy company—because of its “extreme” views on climate change. The Chamber has been a source of climate change denial and recently called for the EPA to hold a “Scopes”-like hearing on the evidence that climate change is man-made. The EPA politely demurred, saying that their policies are based “on the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare.” Climate is not the Chamber’s specialty, but it has been instrumental in protecting some businesses’ interests on issues like labor laws, the minimum wage and health care. And despite potential disagreements on myriad issues, some companies have decided to take a stand on this one. On the PG&E’s blog, Jonathan Marshall, PG&E’s chief of external communications writes, “not every issue is created equal, and sometimes companies decide they have to take a more decisive stand on the really big ones.”
PG&E is a natural gas and electricity provider in Northern California and has invested in solar power. In a letter to the Chamber, they criticize its “extreme” view on climate change:
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on climate change 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.
Separately, Nike issued a statement that chided the Chamber for their position on climate change:
Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber’s recently filed petition challenging the EPA’s administrative authority and action on this critically important issue. 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. Nike helped to found BICEP, a coalition of businesses supporting congressional action to address strong U.S. climate and energy legislation. Nike has worked to address its own environmental footprint through the development of more sustainable products, energy efficiency programs and emission reductions.