Don’t Blame the Greenies, Blame the Greedies

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce remained suspiciously quiet throughout the default stalemate despite potentially debilitating consequences for the business community. But the Big Business lobbying group was hard at work regardless, planning an assault on the environment under the guise of job creation, but for the benefit of corporate profit.

On July 29, days before the debt-ceiling deadline, the Chamber’s “Institute For 21st Century Energy” launched its so-called “Partnership to Fuel America.” This lobbying campaign aimed to garner support for a proposed pipeline that would link Canada’s controversial oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries—a project already deemed “environmentally objectionable” by the EPA. A few days later, the Institute released its Index of Energy Security Risk, whose data supposedly “clearly [validated] the [Institute’s] recommendations…[to] eliminate regulatory barriers that are stalling urgently needed energy projects.” And just one day after Congress reached a debt-ceiling agreement, the Chamber and its allies, including Big Oil’s American Petroleum Institute, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to delay the EPA’s proposed new ozone standards, a move that came shortly after GOP Representatives “added rider after rider to the 2012 spending bill…that would essentially prevent [the EPA]…from doing [its] job.”

Why this burst of anti-environmental activity?

The Chamber and its EPA-hating friends in Congress are blaming environmental regulation for—get this—the country’s lagging economy. The Chamber’s letter to Congress, for example, read that new clean air regulations “would…impair the ability of U.S. companies to create new jobs,” and stated that “Now is not the time to saddle our economy with the extraordinary costs associated with EPA's proposed national ozone standard." Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) went so far as to claim that “overregulation from EPA is at the heart of our stalled economy.”

Because of course, “America's high unemployment rate is not the fault of the worldwide recession or the housing bubble or Wall Street hubris or two unfunded wars on top of…tax cuts for the rich,” joked The Guardian’s Diane Roberts.

And never mind that health experts are pleading Congress to enforce the stricter smog regulations—again, opposed by the Chamber—to prevent thousands of pre-mature deaths and respiratory problems that pose a costly burden to our healthcare system and economy.

It’s time for a reality check. The truth is that the Chamber’s preoccupation with environmental issues is nothing but a sinister attempt to leverage the political buzzword of the day—“jobs”—to advance its anti-regulatory agenda, benefitting its Big Oil and Dirty Coal donors at the expense of Americans’ health and safety.

Don’t blame the greenies. Blame the greedies. 

Just In

Whose opportunity does U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue talk about when he talks about opportunity?

The Chamber’s policies might give the largest corporations the opportunity to grow, but that is often not the same thing as growth and opportunity for the American people. After-tax corporate profits in the third quarter topped 11 percent of GDP for the first time since the records started in 1947. But everyday Americans aren’t doing so well, with real median household income declining 4.4 percent since 2009.

When the Chamber opposes increasing minimum wages to coincide with growth in productivity and the economy overall, one must ask whose growth and opportunity the Chamber is pushing for.