Best Buy Isn't Buying the US Chamber Line on Climate

Things are looking up for the political fortunes of the climate bill. Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are moving ahead with their climate bill framework. With Congress heading into what looks like the home stretch on health care, space for other priorities will emerge on hill calendars.

Perhaps anticipating this, last Friday twenty-two Senators sent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a letter urging him to make climate legislation one of those priorities. As E&E reported today (subscription required):

Twenty-two Senate Democrats are calling for floor action this year on a comprehensive energy and climate change bill.

The list of senators who signed a Friday letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) includes several moderates whose support will be pivotal if the measure has any chance of reaching the crucial 60-vote threshold.

. . . Several important swing-vote Democratic senators signed the letter, including Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Roland Burris of Illinois, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Al Franken of Minnesota, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Jon Tester of Montana, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

So more Senators are stepping forward to say they are ready to work on this issue. And businesses keep stepping up to make clear their support for climate legislation.

Late last week, Best Buy posted a statement making clear that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not represent the U.S. retailer when it comes to climate policy.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization with varied business stakeholders and interests. Those interests among industry don’t always align; on the issue of climate change legislation and regulatory actions, we have certainly seen this to be the case. Best Buy has stated that we are supportive of comprehensive climate change legislation and working to move toward a low carbon economy. With regard to the Chamber’s climate initiatives, the Chamber has not spoken for Best Buy on these issues.

And another big company also recently made clear its stance regarding the US Chamber and climate legislation: Microsoft. I blogged about Microsoft distancing itself from the US Chamber last October in comments to a reporters, but the company recently went all the way and posted a statement on a corporate website, saying:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has never spoken for nor done work on behalf of Microsoft regarding climate change legislation, and we have not participated in the Chamber’s climate initiatives.

(Those changes have been noted on our web page ""? where we keep track of the still-growing split as more and more Chamber members declare the Chamber does not represent them on climate.

The timing is all the more interesting because Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have made it clear that they are working to get the US Chamber to engage in the policy process and not gear up to oppose the bill. As many outlets have reported, including the New York Times, which offered a sum-up from one observer:

"They'd like the Chamber's support," said an industry official close to the negotiations. "Certainly, the next level down is a bill that the Chamber doesn't oppose."

Certainly if the US Chamber pays more attention to its members who want a strong climate bill, it should be easier for the Senators to achieve their goals.