Monday, August 31, 2009

Business Groups Step Up Fight Against Climate Legislation

Aug 27: As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider its version of a climate change and energy bill, and the United Nations Secretary-General is telling countries that the major climate change agreement to be considered later this year in Copenhagen "will determine the future of our planet,” major business organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), the American Petroleum Institute (API) are stepping up their fight in opposition to climate change legislation and regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Even with near filibuster-proof numbers, Senate Democrats will find it difficult to pass climate legislation amidst the backdrop of a struggling economy, high unemployment, contentious political divides over the cost of health care reform and regional political differences among their own ranks.

On August 27, NAM and NFIB launched a multi-state, multi-million-dollar comprehensive advertising campaign opposing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454, ACES), the House-passed Waxman-Markey climate change bill [
See WIMS 6/26/09]. Joining in opposition are several state manufacturing associations in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. The groups are encouraging manufacturers, small business owners and the public to "Speak Out" against the bill and its potentially devastating impact on the economy. The advertisements will run through September 4 and will include television, radio and Internet. The initial phase of the campaign will be conducted in the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

NAM Executive Vice President Jay Timmons said, “Our message to senators is that the Waxman-Markey bill is an ‘anti-jobs, anti-energy’ piece of legislation. It will shrink our nation’s economy, make us less competitive with foreign countries, raise energy costs for consumers and businesses, take away disposable income for Americans and cause significant job loss. Our country needs a growth strategy as we struggle to come out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. What we do not need are policies and regulations that will cost millions of jobs and harm our overall economy.”

NFIB president and CEO Dan Danner said, “We’re very concerned about the impact of the legislation on small businesses. America’s job creators are struggling enough in this economy and don’t need additional burdens. Small business owners are not able to adjust the price of their goods and services quickly enough to match potentially steep energy cost increases without hurting their customer base. The Waxman-Markey bill would significantly raise energy-related costs and lead to considerable job losses.” Earlier this month, the NAM, in partnership with the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF), released a study that assesses the impact the Waxman-Markey bill would have on manufacturing, jobs, energy prices and the overall economy [See WIMS 8/13/09]. NAM said the bill would cause losses in GDP up to $3.1 trillion (2012-2030); employment losses up to 2.4 million jobs in 2030; and increase residential electricity price increases up to 50 percent by 2030.

Throughout the month of August the API has been releasing state-specific information on what it calls "the devastating impact" of job losses and reduced household purchasing power if ACES were implemented. The information is results from an API-commissioned analysis by CRA International. Information release thus far includes the states of TX, NM, NC, OH, TN, IN, CO,MO, FL, ND, AK, ND, and SC.

On August 24, API release information from another analysis by global consulting firm EnSys Energy of the impact of ACES on the U.S. refining sector which they say indicates "that investment in U.S. refining capacity could plummet because the cost of doing business could soar." API said the study shows that the "United States will be more dependent on imports of gasoline and other petroleum fuels while U.S. refining production would be shifted overseas" if ACES becomes law.

API and many other business organizations are funding a nationwide coalition effort called "Energy Citizens" which says it is "voicing their concerns about the impact climate legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would have on American jobs, families and businesses." Also, the U.S. Chamber has organized, The Alliance for Clear Climate Economics and Science Solutions (ACCESS) "to ensure that any regulation of greenhouse gases using existing environmental laws not harm the economy and American jobs."

On August 15, the U.S. Chamber announced that it was requesting that EPA conduct a formal on-the-record hearing on the evidence underlying its so-called "endangerment finding" under the Clean Air Act [
See WIMS 4/27/09]. The Chamber said, "EPA wants to use the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2 emissions from cars. Before it can do this, EPA must first find, as a matter of law, that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles endanger U.S. public health and welfare. Because EPA has proposed that man-made greenhouse gas emissions cause or contribute to rising global temperatures, to make the endangerment finding EPA must now establish that the rising temperatures threaten public health and welfare—that is their burden of proof. EPA is, by all accounts, on the verge of answering this question in the affirmative. We don’t think the evidence EPA set forth meets the legal criteria to support such a finding, and we think a judge would agree with us."

Meanwhile, on August 28, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underscored the need for countries to "seal the deal" at the COP 15 climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. Ban said, “We have about three months until the [Conference] -- three months to reach an agreement that will determine the future of our planet.” The UN has launched "Global Climate Week" from September 21 to 25. Events are planned in more than 120 countries for this first Global Climate Week, which coincides with the summit on climate change, convened by Ban on September 22, in New York.

In an effort that attempts to counter the business groups' activity, Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection's (ACP) Repower America campaign, in partnership with the Blue Green Alliance and its labor and environmental partners, have embarked on a nationwide "Made in America Jobs" tour, highlighting the benefits to American workers and businesses of transitioning to a clean energy economy that will create millions of jobs. Maggie Fox, President and CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection said, "The Alliance for Climate Protection and the Blue Green Alliance are crossing the country to show Americans -- through tours of clean energy businesses, conversations with workers making the parts that harness clean energy and rallies with local residents -- that the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy are available today through good-paying jobs which are giving new meaning to the term Made in America."

The Blue Green Alliance Launched by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club in 2006, now includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, Laborers' International Union of North America, Utility Workers Union of America and American Federation of Teachers. An article in today's [August 31] Washington Post suggests that environmental and labor groups may be losing the campaign delivering a much more subtle message and being far out-spent by the business groups (See links below).

Access a release from NAM (
click here). Access links to individual state releases and reports from API (click here). Access a release and link to the API EnSys Energy study (click here). Access the Energy Citizens website and list of participating organizations (click here). Access the ACCESS website (click here). Access blog comments from the Chamber on its petition to EPA (click here). Access more Chamber comments and link to the complete 23-page petition (click here). Access the EPA docket on CO2 regulation EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171 (click here). Access a release from UN and link to further information (click here). Access a release from UNEP on the Climate Week initiative with links to additional information (click here). Access the Made In America tour schedule and information (click here). Access the Blue Green Alliance website (click here). Access the ACP website (click here). Access the Washington Post article (click here).