Today, the U.S. Chamber launched its energy agenda, casting a critical eye on the Obama Administration’s policies and showcasing its allegiance to the Big Oil companies that fund its lobbying budget. Remember, it was the Chamber’s 19th century approach to energy that led so many large corporations and local Chambers—including Apple, Nike and Microsoft—to break away from the U.S. Chamber in 2009.

“With their so-called ‘Energy Reality Tour,’ the U.S. Chamber shows that it has all the understanding of energy policy and nuance as ‘drill, baby, drill.’ From prioritizing tax breaks for its company friends over renewable energy, to opening protected lands, to oil and gas companies, the “reality” is, we can’t afford the Chamber’s misguided energy policies of the past any more than we can afford another BP spill in the Gulf.” -U.S. Chamber Watch spokeswoman Christy Setzer

The “Reality” of the U.S. Chamber’s Energy Agenda

U.S. Chamber Prioritizes Tax Breaks For Oil Companies Even When That Support Conflicts With Other Policy Priorities.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed an amendment to repeal the 1099 reporting provisions in the Affordable Care Act because it was paid for by raising taxes on the five biggest oil companies. The U.S. Chamber called the 1099 provision “an unprecedented burden on small business reporting and paper work requirements at a time when they can least afford it,” but they opposed the amendment to repeal it proposed by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) which paid for the bill by repealing the portion of the tax code that applied to the five largest oil companies with more than $1 billion of before-tax income.”  [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Letter to Congress, 9/9/10; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Press Release, 11/29/10; American Public Health Association]

  • The Five Biggest Oil Companies That Would Have Experienced These Tax Hikes Are All Connected To The U.S. Chamber:
  • Exxon Mobil: Exxon Mobil was represented on the board of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), according to the ILR’s 2009 IRS Form990.  
  • Royal Dutch Shell: Among other connections, in 2010, the U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief defending Shell in a multi-million dollar punitive damages case. 
  • BP: BP is a member of the Chamber and the Chamber lobbied on its behalf after the company’s devastating April 2010 oil spill.
  • Chevron: Chevron is a member and a donor to the U.S. Chamber. Chevron gave the Chamber an amount of $250,000 in both 2008 and 2009.             
  • ConocoPhillips: Conoco Phillips is represented on the Chamber’s board.

U.S. Chamber Prioritizes Fossil Fuels Over What It Calls “High-Cost” Renewable Energy.  In an interview with the Hill, Karen Harbert, the president of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy questioned the funding of “high-cost” renewable energy projects. She said, “Can we, in the economic times in which we find ourselves, continue to fund the type of research and development and the types of monies that were spent in the stimulus package on very high-cost energy sources?”  Instead, Harbert recommended a focus on off-shore oil drilling, saying “It would be a huge mistake if the administration or the Congress or a combination of the two were to regulate or overtax the ability of industry to participate in offshore exploration.”  [The Hill, 1/10/11]

U.S. Chamber Goes So Far as to Support Resource Development in Protected Lands. The U.S. Chamber made a pitch to have the government tap more natural resources on federal lands in order to create jobs and increase federal revenue. The organization made its case in ‘An Open Letter to the President of the United States, the United States Congress and the American People’ and a speech by its president and CEO, Tom Donohue.  The U.S. Chamber argued “that opening national forest land that is currently closed to timber harvesting and developing inactive oil, gas and shale leases could generate trillions of dollars in royalties.” [Politico, 7/21/10]

Just some of the many reasons why….

Many Corporations and Local Chambers Protested the U.S. Chamber’s Extreme Climate Policy By Denouncing, Quitting the Chamber. In 2009 and 2010, several large corporations including Apple, Excelon, PNM Resources, Pacific Gas and Electric (P,G,&E), and Mohawk Paper ended their memberships with the U.S. Chamber over the Chamber’s extreme anti-climate views.  Additionally, Nike quit the Chamber’s board.  Other companies like Duke Energy, Johnson and Johnson, General Electric, Alcoa, Microsoft, Pepco, Best Buy, and Cisco Systems publicly denounced the Chamber. As did local chambers like San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and many more. [U.S. Chamber Watch Website, Accessed 2/1/11]

Just In

As of the Summer of 2014, U.S. Chamber Watch has moved to a new and improved website at ChamberofCommerceWatch.org.

Please visit us there, and on Twitter at @USChamberWatch!