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The U.S. Chamber of Carbon Commerce Does Not Speak for Us

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't really care about small business. It just wants its wealthiest backers to pollute forever.


We're very proud and excited to be partnering with 350.org on their new campaign: "The U.S. Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me." The message is simple: when it comes to climate and energy, the US Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of big polluters, not everyday American business.

Over the next couple of months, we're going to be asking you, GOOD people, to personally add your voice and stand with small business owners, local chambers of commerce, and concerned citizens around the country to declare that the "U.S. Chamber doesn't speak for me."


Then, even more importantly, we will join the ranks of 350.org's volunteers and fan out across the country to canvass local businesses—all those bakeries and beauty salons, colleges and chiropractors, pharmacies and fitness centers that belong to local chambers of commerce. We've be asking for signatures and taking photos and videos, all making that same proud declaration: "The U.S. Chamber doesn't speak for me."

If you're a business owner, go here to get involved directly.

For a lot more background on the U.S. Chamber's smoggy stance, please read this powerful op-ed by 350.org founder Bill McKibben.


It's a long and terrifying read, but an essential one. A couple points worth reiterating here.

This Ain't Your Local Florist/Hardware Store/Grocer's Chamber: While everyone thinks of the Chamber of Commerce as representing small business, the majority of the U.S. Chamber's revenue comes from just 16 companies. They aren't required (thanks to Citizens United) to disclose who those 16 companies are, but a look at their lobbying dollars makes it all too clear that the Big Fossils are calling the shots.

It claims to represent “three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.” The organization, that is, seems to speak for a country full of barbers and florists, car dealers, restaurant owners, and insurance salesmen, not to mention the small entrepreneurs who make up local and state chambers of commerce across the country.

At least when it comes to energy and climate, though, that claim is, politely put, a fib....55 percent of its funding came from just 16 companies, each of which gave more than a million dollars. It doesn’t have to say which companies, but by their deeds shall you know them.

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Huge Money: The U.S. Chamber proudly "brags that it’s the biggest lobby in Washington, 'consistently leading the pack in lobbying expenditures.' The group spent as much as $33 million trying to influence the 2010 midterm elections, and has announced that it will beat that in 2012."

The Best and Brightest are Leaving: The U.S. Chamber's reactionary climate stance has driven some big companies like Apple to quit the organization entirely, and companies like Nike have left board because of it.

In 2009, for instance, one of its officials even demanded a “twenty-first century Scopes monkey trial” for global warming: “It would be the science of climate change on trial,” the Chamber’s senior vice-president for environment, technology, and regulatory affairs explained.

That didn’t go over so well. Several high-profile companies quit the chamber. Apple Computers, the very exemplar of the universe of cutting-edge technology, explained: “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.”

Other businesses complained that they hadn’t been consulted. Some, like Nike, quit the organization’s board. “We just weren’t clear in how decisions on climate and energy were being made,” said a Nike spokesman.

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Losing its Base: Local Chambers of Commerce—those that actually represent the small businesses in our communities that we all wish the best and most prosperous futures for—are leaving in droves. In 2010 alone, at least 50 local Chambers—from Philadelphia to Pasadena, from South Carolina to Salt Lake City—publicly disassociated themselves with the national organization.

There's a lot more to it, including terrifying stories of the intimidation tactics the U.S. Chamber has used against its political opponents, and how the Chamber believes that humans can adapt to climate change better than businesses can. (I'm not making this up.) Read McKibben's plea, then head straight to 350.org's site and sign the declaration. We'll be in touch very soon with more details about how the GOOD community can chip in beyond that.

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