Apple leaves U.S. Chamber over stance on climate change bill

Apple announced Monday it would leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the group’s stance against climate change as the nation’s premier business lobby continued to hemorrhage members.

Apple is the fourth company to leave the Chamber over global warming. A fifth, Nike, withdrew from the Chamber’s board but remains a member of the group.

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The Chamber sought to clarify its position last week after three electric utilities that support a cap on carbon pulled out. Apple is the first non-utility to back out of the group, and backers of climate legislation took the departure to mean growing momentum for their side.

“The Chamber is a consensus-driven organization and welcomes input from any
company that wants to work on a comprehensive approach to reduce greenhouse gases,” a spokesman for the group said. “While we’ll continue to represent the broad majority of our membership on this goal, we recognize that there are some companies who stand to gain more than others with the current options on the table.”

In response to the departures last week, Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue released a statement clarifying that the group supported climate legislation that would not hurt the economy and required international participation.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to support strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change,” Donohue said. He called the Chamber’s position commonsense and mainstream.

In the same statement, the Chamber said it opposed a move by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon through the use of the Clean Air Act. The EPA announced last week its intention of regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions for large power plants and industrial facilities.

An Apple executive said the company “strongly” objected to the Chamber’s recent comments opposing the EPA’s efforts to limit greenhouse gases in a letter to Donohue sent Monday.

“We would prefer that the Chamber take a more progressive stance on this critical issue and play a constructive role in addressing the climate crisis,” Apple Vice President for Worldwide Government Affairs Catherine Novelli wrote.

Apple has announced its own efforts to reduce its emissions.

“For those companies who cannot or will not do the same, Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the Chamber at odds with us in this effort,” Novelli said.

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Apple’s resignation from the Chamber is effective immediately.

Previously, PG&E, PNM Resources and Exelon resigned from the Chamber due to disagreement on climate legislation. The utilities could stand to benefit financially under a carbon cap because they operate nuclear plants and emit less carbon dioxide than some of their competitors.

Supporters of climate legislation said Nike’s and Apple’s decision reflects the growing support for climate legislation across the business spectrum.

“These companies are making a very clear decision that moving forward on climate change legislation is the right thing to do,” said Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Others said the recent departures bode well for the climate bill because they demonstrate the changing political dynamics of the climate debate.

“These are mainstream companies making these decisions. It’s not Ben and Jerry’s and Tom’s of Maine,” said Erik Smith of Blue Engine Media.

“When you see non-ideological corporations making decisions like this, it leads me to believe that the Chamber is moving out of the mainstream,” said Smith, a former spokesman for House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).