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Jan. 15, 2014

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Energy Platform: Raise Gasoline Prices and Fatten Profits for Big Oil

Today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy unveiled a 64-point energy agenda representing the Chamber’s plans for energy advocacy for 2014 and beyond.

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Today, Big Oil demonstrated its influence over the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which issued a wish list that prioritizes profits for big energy companies at the expense of higher energy prices for families and reduced safety for the environment and workers. The U.S. Chamber’s anti-clean energy policies will further alienate it from many of the companies it claims to represent. Those companies’ representatives should reconsider their memberships in the trade association because of the U.S. Chamber’s out-of-touch energy policy positions.

The Chamber’s list combines some recycled, discredited proposals to open more sensitive habits to fossil fuel production, limit the implementation of public health laws and limit landowners’ constitutional due process rights in the expediting of projects like the Keystone XL pipeline. While all of these castoff ideas will make America less energy secure, they will help fatten the profits of Big Oil. Meanwhile, the Chamber’s new embrace of allowing unfettered export of U.S. produced oil will directly lead to higher gasoline prices for American drivers.

Likely led by Chevron’s $1 million annual contribution to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s budget, Big Oil wields significant control over the U.S. Chamber’s purse strings, helping to explain why it would prioritize the needs of oil companies over American consumers and families.

The U.S. Chamber’s support for the expansion of commercial nuclear power in the United States translates to support for boondoggles that shift cost and risk to both ratepayers and taxpayers. Supporting this typewriter technology in the age of iPads further demonstrates how outdated the U.S. Chamber’s approach to energy is.

Since 2009, more than 50 local Chambers of Commerce have publicly denounced or canceled their membership to the U.S. Chamber, citing the national organization's extreme positions. And high-profile defections like Apple and Nike over the U.S. Chamber’s position on climate change further underscore the fact that the U.S. Chamber is not speaking for the entire business community, but rather represents an elite corporate agenda.

The Chamber’s energy agenda is a declaration of war against the American consumer, our communities and our environment. What’s good for Big Oil isn’t good for the rest of America. We need an energy plan that works for Americans, not against them.

Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Program which houses U.S. Chamber Watch

Note: Public Citizen runs U.S. Chamber Watch, a project designed to shed light on the funding and practices of the largest private interest lobbyist in America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As a direct counter to its stated purpose, the U.S. Chamber’s outdated energy policy platform will continue to keep our nation behind on creating jobs. By continuing to trumpet and expand on its list of obsolete ideas for the energy sector, the U.S. Chamber is anchoring itself and its member companies to a losing cause: heavily promoting fossil fuel use over focusing on clean energy and energy efficiency innovation. Companies that make their trade in new, clean energy innovations are right to leave the U.S. Chamber behind and to focus on green construction projects and clean energy manufacturing.

Last year, the construction company Skanska led the way by leaving the U.S. Chamber after the business group helped fight new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards. As part of this anti-LEED push, the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, of which the U.S. Chamber is a member, has even supported legislation that would effectively ban the use of LEED construction in federal building contracts. The current iteration of the U.S. Chamber’s energy platform pushes for energy performance contracting, which is not as comprehensive as the well-recognized and proven, voluntary LEED green building standards in which companies like Skanska are experts.

Given that many economists see construction and innovation as key to the country’s economic recovery, the U.S. Chamber’s position on LEED seems contradictory to the giant sign in front of its headquarters that reads, “J-O-B-S.”

Skanska, of course, is not the first company to leave the U.S. Chamber with similar grievances. Several former members – including Apple, Yahoo, Pacific Gas and Electric, and more than 50 local Chambers – have quit the organization over the past few years because of its stances on the environment or other issues and what seem to be contradictory policies on important new jobs in the energy sector.

Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch project invites companies like Skanska, and others that are still members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to join in our efforts to call out the business group’s hypocrisy.

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