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US Chamber: Green Energy Push Underwhelms

Theo Spencer

Posted October 9, 2008 in Solving Global Warming

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 Anyone who was ever subjected to the crooner Pat Boone's ill-fated foray into covering metal music classics  already has a pretty good idea of how painful it is to watch the U.S. Chamber of Commerce try to pose as an organization that cares about clean energy.

Through its front group, The Institute for 21st Century Energy, the Chamber has issued a sweeping encyclopedia  of 75 energy initiatives for the next Congress and President

Now maybe it's unfair to expect too much of a Chamber group - particularly one that is headed by someone who sits on the board of directors of Chevron.

But it's pretty clear already that the early reviews for the Chamber are less than charitable. 

 In the "Environmental Capital" blog at the Wall Street Journal, an obviously amused Keith Johnson accompanied his entry with a shot of frazzled middle schoolers who clearly have tried to cram too hard for the big quiz. Of the Chamber's new energy "plan," Johnson notes:  "Republicans in Congress liked to tout an all-of-the-above energy policy. They have nothing on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

Over at the Gristmill, David Roberts writes

The Institute for 21st Century Energy is a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which bills itself as a bipartisan trade association. In fact, it has effectively become part of the Republican machine, dominated by -- and lobbying fiercely for the interests of -- Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Pharma, and other such Bigs. Earlier this week, the Institute released its long awaited Blueprint for Securing America's Energy Future, which contains more than 75 recommendations for lawmakers. While not nearly as bad as I expected -- fully implemented it would represent an improvement over the status quo -- it still reflects the biases of its source ...  It contains everything from efficiency to utility decoupling to subsidies for clean coal and nukes to expanded drilling to long-term extension of renewable tax credits. I can't think of an energy policy idea from the last five years that hasn't made it in. Oh, wait, yes I can: anything that taxes, regulates, or otherwise constrains business in any way. [emphasis in original]

Closer to home, NRDC's Dan Lashof is even more pointed in his commentary:

It is anything but about smart energy policy for the 21st Century. Rather it is all about continuing the energy policies of the last century that got us into the mess we're in ... It reads like the tired old pursue-every-energy-option energy non-policy policy we used to get out of the first Bush administration. There is something here for everyone, but fundamentally this is about more drilling, more digging, and more fissioning, dressed up with lip service for efficiency and renewables.

Maybe the Chamber will end up going back to what it likes doing the most:  scare tactics.  

Just in case you haven't freaked out about next summer yet, consider this from the Chamber blog - the ChamberPost (which is just one superfluous "s" away from being a truthful reflection of its content):  "the U.S. faces significant risk of power brownouts and blackouts as early as next summer that may cost tens of billions of dollars and threaten lives."

The moral of this story?  It's hard for the Chamber to be taken seriously as an energy visionary one day ... when it goes right back the very next day to its usual Chicken-Little thing.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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