Have you heard of the Partnership to Fuel America? It sounds innocent enough, but it’s actually a campaign launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to promote the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The U.S. Chamber would like you to imagine it as the voice of all American businesses, but it has more in common with the American Petroleum Institute than with your local chamber of commerce. In fact, according to 350.org, some 55% of the Chamber’s funding comes from just 16 companies. Who are these donors? We don’t know (yes, it’s actually a secret). We can make a good guess, though, by looking at where the money goes.
The Chamber spent $132 million on lobbying in 2010 — $32 million on the midterm elections alone, with 94 percent going to candidates that deny climate change. And almost all the politicians the Chamber helped elect made dismantling environmental regulations a top priority. This, in addition to a long history of science denial, makes the Chamber’s position on global warming clear. Such staunch opposition to climate action has led corporations like Nike, Apple, Microsoft, and PG&E to distance themselves from the Chamber.
However, for some reason the Chamber sees a need to cast itself as a moderate on climate and energy. On its web site, for example, it claims to support a “comprehensive legislative solution” for climate change. That’s easy to say now that every legislative solution has been killed, largely thanks to the Chamber’s lobbying. And the Chamber fiercely opposes EPA carbon regulations — the only federal option left on the table.
In comments sent to the EPA, the Chamber insisted that global warming really isn’t a problem:
Overall, there is strong evidence that populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.
I’m sure the folks in Texas suffering from the historic drought will be happy to hear that.
If you need further evidence of whom the Chamber works for, consider this: It sided with Chevron in the Amazon pollution lawsuit. While international law experts criticized a U.S. federal judge for barring the enforcement of the $18 billion verdict against Chevron, the Chamber had this to say about the oil giant’s appeal:
At bottom, this appeal involves a carefully tailored solution in a case containing extraordinary, unrebutted evidence of a plan to shake down a United States corporation.
More recently, the Chamber has taken a stand in favor of smog, aka ground level ozone, by opposing tighter pollution standards. Having beaten down climate and clean energy bills, the Chamber is now working with its friends in Congress to blanket-bomb decades of green achievements, from the Clean Air Act to the EPA itself. The Partnership to
Fuel Pollute America is just the latest step in the Chamber’s plan.
The Keystone XL pipeline could be disastrous for the regions it crosses, and the accompanying tar sands expansion would be disastrous for the climate, according to top scientists. In an open letter, they warned that energy sources like the tar sands will “leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control.”
I guess they haven’t heard that we can just change our physiology.
If the quote about “physiological adaptations” sounds familiar, that’s because Bill McKibben mentioned it in his Powershift speech:
I don’t even really know what that means, alter your physiology. Grow gills? I don’t know. But I can tell you this. I am too old to change my physiology and you all are too good looking. But I will adapt my behavior. Every day now I will roll out of bed and go to work fighting [the Chamber's agenda]….
We’re going to adapt our behavior all right. We’re going to adapt our behavior now to fight on every front. I’m sorry if that sounds aggressive, but there we are.
Do you want to join the fight against the Chamber’s agenda? If so, here are some ways to take action:
- Sign the petition asking President Obama to block the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. Although the State Department is ready to give the project a green light, the President has the final word; he can approve or stop the pipeline with a signature.
- Support and spread the word about the Tar Sands Action. For two weeks (until September 2), over 2,000 activists will gather in Washington, D.C. to protest the Keystone XL. The event began on August 20 with 70 arrests in front of the White House (but you don’t have to get arrested to participate).
- Own a business, or know someone who does? Tell America that the U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for you. We can’t take away the Chamber’s money, but we can undermine its credibility. So far, over 6,000 businesses have signed 350.org’s statement opposing the Chamber.