In an effort to prevent more defections by its membership, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday defended and clarified its position on House climate change legislation (HR 2454).

“We oppose the Waxman-Markey bill because it is neither comprehensive nor international, and it falls short on moving renewable and alternative technologies into the marketplace and enabling our transition to a lower-carbon future. It would also impose carbon tariffs on goods imported in the United States, a move that would almost certainly spur retaliation from global trading partners,” said Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue.

“Some in the environmental movement claim that, because of our opposition to a specific bill or approach, we must be opposed to ‘all’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, or that we deny the existence of any problem. They are dead wrong.

“The chamber has in its public documents, [Capitol] Hill letters and testimony, as well as dozens of concrete policy recommendations, [indicating that it] supported efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere while keeping our economy healthy,” he said.

“We have vigorously supported the production and use of renewable and alternative energy. We have repeatedly supported tax incentives and credits, appropriations and stimulus funding to promote the accelerated development of new technologies. We are leading the fight to clear the regulatory, legal and not-in-my-backyard roadblocks that are currently delaying promising wind, solar, nuclear and other renewable or emissions-free energy projects across the nation.”

Donohue’s remarks come on the heels of announcements by three of the country’s largest utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Exelon Corp. and PNM Resources — that they plan to drop their memberships over the chamber’s opposition to federal climate change legislation (see Daily GPI, Sept. 29; Sept. 24).

A strong critic of the Obama administration, the Washington, DC-based Chamber of Commerce, a major organization for big business, said the climate change legislation pending in Congress would kill jobs while making little or no difference to global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations.

Donohue said the chamber supports “strong” federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce CO2 emissions and address climate change.

“We believe that in order to succeed, any climate change response must include all major CO2 emitting economies, promote new technologies, emphasize efficiency, ensure affordable energy for families and businesses and help create American jobs and return our economy to prosperity. The Congress should carefully deliberate on and enact legislation that meets these goals,” he noted.

“We also have called upon the United States to join with other nations to negotiate a new international agreement that sets binding CO2 reduction commitments for each nation, while allowing each to devise its own best path to meeting its target.

“Furthermore, we believe that Congress should set climate change policy through legislation, rather than having the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] apply existing environmental statutes that were not created to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” Donohue said.

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