Utility Leaving U.S. Chamber Over Stance on Climate Change

By David Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009; 5:56 PM

Pacific Gas and Electric, a large California utility, said Tuesday that it is pulling out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because it disagrees with the chamber's aggressive opposition to climate-change legislation.

The San Francisco-based company announced the move on its blog, Next100. The blog said utility chief executive Peter Darbee had written a letter criticizing the chamber's recent demands that the Environmental Protection Agency hold a "Scopes Monkey Trial" to prove the science behind climate change.

"We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored," Darbee wrote.

The chamber, which says it represents 3 million U.S. businesses, has been one of the loudest voices opposing the climate-change legislation passed by the U.S. House in June. Its officials have said the bill would create burdensome and confusing new government regulations and make energy more scarce and expensive.

A chamber spokesman said this afternoon that the group does not comment about "the comings and goings" of member companies.

Environmentalists said this decision was similar to several companies' defections from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which has lobbied for coal-fired power plants to be better protected in a climate bill.

"We are seeing a greater number of companies that feel so strongly that we need a real policy [on climate change] that they are willing to go where usually businesses don't go, which is to acknowledge conflict with the views of their member organizations," said Pete Altman, of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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