Companies Launch New Initiative to Show Broad Business Support for Climate Legislation

Yesterday's news that clean energy and climate legislation moved out of the EPW committee was a welcome development. Even though a number of opponents of action decided to sit out the vote, there's plenty of support for moving a bill forward.

And there was another sign that more and more businesses support legislative action, with the launch of American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE), a broad initiative by businesses that want their voices heard on clean energy and climate legislation and that want to make it easy for other businesses - large and small - to signal their support for clean energy and climate legislation. These include some new business voices, including those who were part of yesterday's announcement.

This initiative comprised of 22 founding companies  represents a diverse cross-section of American businesses, including retail, utilities, sports and banking.

What's driving some companies, PSEG's Ralph Izzo told the Wall Street Journal, is that

"We're missing out on component manufacturing, solar-panel development capability, large components for nuclear power plants," Izzo said. "As we have conversations about solar and new nuclear, suppliers tend to be people from China, Japan and France, not the U.S."

As E&E News reported

"There are a growing number of business leaders clamoring for comprehensive climate legislation," said PSEG President and CEO Ralph Izzo, who joined other ABCE company executives in a conference call with reporters. "We're unified by the need for a price on carbon and policies that clearly support renewable energy."

Auden Schendler, Aspen Skiing Co.'s executive director for environmental responsibility, said he welcomed the opportunity to participate in ABCE, noting that the $730 billion per year outdoor industry is very concerned about climate change and views it as a threat to the industry's bottom line, 

"If your house is on fire and someone offers you an extra bucket of water, you accept it," Schendler explained. "This is an extremely urgent problem, and you need to throw the kitchen sink at it."

Kindley Walsh Lawlor, Gap Inc's senior director of global responsibility, emphasized that while many companies are taking their own steps to reduce emissions, a concerted effort is needed.  

"Gap Inc. is taking action on climate change now -- in fact, we have reduced our energy consumption by 20% over the past five years ... That's why we're pleased to be standing among forward-thinking businesses that support climate and energy policy in the U.S."

Now, considering all the hoopla around the US Chamber of Commerce's climate credibility crisis, its fair to wonder how this new group fits into the picture. Well, as Bloomberg reported, this new initiative is not directly related to the US Chamber.

"This initiative is not about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," said Christopher Van Atten, director of M.J. Bradley & Associates LLC, a Massachusetts-based consulting company. Van Atten, who said he helped to get the group started, spoke on its behalf today.

Tom King, president of National Grid U.S. emphasized that ABCE is all about showing proactive support for serious legislation:

"Many within the business community are urging Congress to adopt meaningful energy and climate legislation, so we can move forward with investments in technologies and infrastructure that will be needed to meet future energy demand, grow our economy, and protect our environment. ABCE provides a public forum for companies to register their support for this critical objective."

That said, ABCE clearly calls for "clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions," where as the US Chamber of Commerce - even in their most recent "new attitude" letter to Senators - omit the goal of actually calling for significant emissions reductions. As I mentioned yesterday.

And as National Journal reported,

Contrary to the arguments of some business groups, ABCE members argued that climate legislation was essential for the future of their businesses and would help create jobs.

The simplicity of ABCE is a big part of the appeal, and fills a need that isn't met by existing business coalitions that are focused on specific policy proposals like USCAP, of which NRDC is a member. That's why NRDC was one of the groups that were happy to help MJ Bradley connect with companies and other business coalitions who might support this new effort.

We'll keep an eye on new developments with the American Businesses for Clean Energy and the growing number of businesses that want legislation that will strengthen our economy, spur investment in new technologies, and make us a global leader for the 21st century.