Can The White House Bring Along the Chamber of Commerce On The Climate Bill?

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photo via flickr

President Obama has summoned Tom Donahue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to the White House to negotiate his support for the Senate climate bill. The Chamber, the country's leading business lobby group, has opposed climate legislation and has gone so far as to question the reality of climate change. Last year, a flurry of groups left the Chamber because of its opposition to action on energy and climate.The invite to Donahue is yet another sign that the White House is serious about getting climate and energy reform through Congress this year. Many pundits have speculated that becuase of the November election, Democrats would be scared to push for action now, but the White House has been laying the groundwork for this for months.

The President's Moves
Both Obama's announcement last month of increased access for oil drilling on the coasts and his championing of The Copenhagen Accord seem calculated to push the Senate toward action. The former is likely a concession to oil and gas state Republicans who oppose any bill that puts a price on carbon.

This past week, the President also invited the heads of many prominent green groups this past week to discuss strategy.

A successful courtship of Donahue would be a big win for the White House, but at what cost? The Senate bill, authored by Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham, is said to be riddled with giveaways to the oil and coal industries and weakened with enough carbon offsets that industrial polluters can buy their way out of any substantive action.

Last year, a number of businesses spoke out against the Chamber, including Apple, for its lack of climate. leadership Catherine A. Novelli, the vice-president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, wrote in a letter to Donohue:

"We strongly object to the chamber's recent comments opposing the E.P.A.'s effort to limit greenhouse gases. Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort."

More on the Chamber of Commerce:
Apple Leaves Climate Change Denying Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Seeks 'Scopes Trial' For Climate Science