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Summary:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is alienating its member companies with a hard-line stance it’s taken against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and climate change legislation currently making the rounds in the Senate. The latest casualty in the conflict generated by the Chamber’s controversial position is […]

us_chamber_of_commerceThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce is alienating its member companies with a hard-line stance it’s taken against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and climate change legislation currently making the rounds in the Senate. The latest casualty in the conflict generated by the Chamber’s controversial position is Apple, which yesterday gave up its membership with the organization.

The specific stance Apple took issue with is the Chamber’s position against the idea that the EPA should regulate greenhouse gas emissions, using the authority it already has to do so under the Clean Air Act. Most agree that the EPA doesn’t actually want to do this, but that it’s a last resort measure in case the Democratic climate change bill that passed the house in June and now faces the Senate ultimately fails.

Apple spokeswoman Catherine Novelli wrote to Thomas Donohue, the Chamber’s president, explaining Apple’s decision to leave:

We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the EPA’s effort to limit greenhouse gases. Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort.

Three other firms, California-based Pacific Gas and Electric and Exelon, and New Mexico’s PNM Resources, have all left the Chamber of Commerce based on the same policy decision. Both GE and Johnson & Johnson have both issued statements making clear their disagreement with the Commerce’s official stance. Nike stepped down from the executive branch of the Commerce, but maintains its membership, and made clear its position in a statement of its own:

As we’ve stated, we fundamentally disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change and their recent action challenging the EPA is inconsistent with our view that climate change is an issue in need of urgent action.

In the past, Apple has made its political leanings known when it felt the issue was important enough. When Proposition 8 was announced, Apple donated $100,000 to oppose the bill. The decision was met with strong reactions from both sides of the debate, with some questioning the right of a company to come out so publicly in favor of one side or another on such a contentious issue, and some lauding the uncharacteristic show of corporate political action.

I imagine this latest display of a political stance will be greeted with less controversy, since many see the value of climate change legislation. And the departure of a high profile company like Apple will do much to raise awareness of the issue in the business world. Still, the Chamber still counts more than three million companies among its membership, so the departure of four of those companies is unlikely do much effect the organization’s relevance.

  1. It is the EPA that is overstepping its bounds as a regulatory agency in this case. For the EPA to create rules that would usurp the law is almost unfathomable, and not within its delegated powers.

    The Clean Air act refers to acknowledged toxins, of which carbon dioxide is not.

    This is something that should be decided by legislative action, not a regulatory body that has been created to carry out the law.

    Somehow I feel if Apple’s manufacturing plants were in the US, they might feel differently about their carbon emissions.

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  2. “Somehow I feel if Apple’s manufacturing plants were in the US, they might feel differently about their carbon emissions.”

    from Apple’s web site:

    Responsible manufacturing.
    Apple is committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible. View our Supplier Code of Conduct as well as our supplier audit reports at Supplier Responsibility.

    From the Apple Supplier Code of Conduct:

    The Environment

    At Apple, environmental considerations are an integral part of our business practices. Suppliers must be committed to reducing the environmental impact of their designs, manufacturing processes, and waste emissions.

    Hazardous Substance Management and Restrictions

    Suppliers must comply with the most recent version of Apple’s Regulated Substances Specification, 069-0135 and with any applicable laws and regulations prohibiting or restricting specific substances. To ensure safe handling, movement, storage, recycling, reuse, and disposal, Suppliers must identify and manage substances that pose a hazard if released to the environment and comply with applicable labeling laws and regulations for recycling and disposal.

    Wastewater and Solid Waste Emissions

    Wastewater and solid waste generated from operations, industrial processes, and sanitation facilities must be monitored, controlled, and treated as required by applicable laws and regulations before discharge or disposal.

    Air Emissions

    Air emissions of volatile organic chemicals, aerosols, corrosives, particulates, ozone depleting chemicals, and combustion by-products generated from operations must be characterized, monitored, controlled, and treated as required by applicable laws and regulations before discharge.

    Environmental Permits and Reporting

    Suppliers must obtain, maintain, and keep current all required environmental permits (e.g. discharge monitoring) and registrations and follow the operational and reporting requirements of such permits.

    Pollution Prevention and Resource Reduction

    Suppliers must endeavor to reduce or eliminate waste of all types, including water and energy, by implementing appropriate conservation measures in their facilities, in their maintenance and production processes, and by recycling, re-using, or substituting materials.

    ———————————-

    Doesn’t sound as if they don’t care to me.

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  3. I’m loving this. I was in college during the heyday of the late-sixties “Population Explosion” hysteria, but since I was majoring in engineering, I didn’t have time for the fun of politics. Out of school and as a writer, I may not be getting rich, but I do have the time to follow these these flirtations with folly that pass over certain segments of our society every couple of decades. Apple’s management is clearly in that class.

    On the surface, there’s always some earth-shattering crisis. In the early twentieth century, it was eugenics and supposed danger to civilization posed by the ‘multiplication of the feebleminded.’ Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s 1922 bestseller, The Pivot of Civilization, is a typical example. G. K. Chesterton, in his Eugenics and Other Evils, was one of the few writers to oppose the nonsense and point out that it was really just a scheme to get rid of the poor. Today, few historians would disagree with his assessment. Beneath the crisis, there’s always a nasty little agenda that dare not speak its name.

    The next hysteria came during the Great Depression and a so-called ‘crisis of capitalism’ that could only be solved, we were told, by top-down, regimented and regulated societies: the Soviet Union and fascist Germany being the two ideals. FDR’s New Deal was a watered down blend of both. Today, economists believe that the arbitrariness of government dictated policies (think Cash for Clunkers), in democracies creates uncertainties that inhibit investment and economic recovery. A recent UCLA study suggests that FDR’s policies added seven years to the Depression.

    The next hysteria of importance was of an alleged “Population Explosion,” made as the birth control pill (released circa 1960) sent birth rates plummeting in the developed world. The push was for government funded ‘family planning’ and legalized abortion targeting the poor, and the link to eugenics was obvious for anyone who read more than the newspapers. The chief spokesperson for the agenda (think of him as the Al Gore of the movement) was Alan Guttmacher, head of Planned Parenthood-World Population and the former VP of the American Eugenics Association.

    Since them we’ve had fears of resource depletion and a new ice age (late 70s), followed by the current hysteria over global warming, which began during the 1990s. The sorts of people and, in many cases the same people or groups, that fell in the past or supported the covert agendas are now on the Global Warming bandwagon. Science magazine, which once warned of overpopulation, is an example.

    In Propaganda, Jacque Ellul, a prominent French sociologists, explained why. There are two forms of propaganda, he said. One appeals to emotion and targets the poorly educated. The other uses ideas and appeals primarily to those whose educational pretensions exceed their actual abilities and life experiences. They’ve attended a university and graduated with the idea that they ought to be able to understand all that’s happening in the world. Lacking the proper experience to do that, they’re suckers for systematic propagandas that provide answers: eugenics, Marxism, Global Warming, that sort of thing.

    My own take is that many of these people are simply “educated beyond their intelligence.” Chesterton called them people who “could read before they could see.” In them, the role that experience and good sense plays in thinking has been replaced by what their read in books, in newspapers such as the NY Times, and what they hear from authority figures. Talk to them and you’d quickly discover the word-based sources of most of their thinking.

    You could see this in action a few years ago when breathless headlines in the NY Times claimed that the North Pole was iceless for the first time in many millions of years. With my more commonsense view of life, I asked, “Apart from the last few decades when we have had satellites, how can anyone know when the North Pole has been ice free?” A few days later, the ever-clueless NY Times had to issue a correction. The Pole, like any other part of the Arctic Ocean, is ice free from time to time, depending on shifting currents.

    For that specific case, dogma was open to correction. In general, it isn’t. For such people, dogma-driven patterns must be true because all their security hinges on their word-centric explanations of the world. The world must be warming up because of blah…. blah…. blah. In actual fact, global temperatures have been falling for the last decade and the trend seems to be accelerating in the last three years. We may be entering a period of dramatic cooling driven by changes inside the sun.

    Global cooling has far worse effects than the benign ones that accompany warming. Previous warm periods have been marvelous for humanity, which is, after all, a tropical species. Cold periods, the last in the mini-Ice age of the late 17th century, have been terrible for us.

    But it just might be worth a few decades of cooling to put these sense-lacking twits, including those at Apple, in their place. And I, for one, am looking forward to doing so: “Oh, you must be one of those who used to believe in Global Warming,” followed by an awkward silence from the other person, heavily bundled in the cold.

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    1. That was some painful astroturfing.

      The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat are all affected, none for the better, by the waste we put into them. All this talk about “carbon” and “climate change” is small-minded stuff.

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    2. Check out a new documentary on abortion targeting the black population called: maafa21: http://www.maafa21.com

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  4. I would love to have an iphone, but I cannot get service here in Valley City, North Dakota. Fargo cannot get service either. Poor merchandising Apple!!!

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    1. That’s not Apple’s fault, it is ATT’s. Like all cell providers, they concentrate on large urban areas. They’ll get to you eventually.

      In the meantime, you can feel the same screwover the rest of us get through buying one of their femtocells.

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  5. @Mike Perry.

    Nice post, if a bit lengthy. Unfortunately, as with most deniers, you mischaracterize the entire issue.

    It isn’t as simple as you say, it is a large, varied and complex subject. Climate change isn’t about average yearly temperature. As the climate changes, worldwide, whether up or down, some places will get colder and others may get warmer. Here is Maryland, our summers the last two years have gotten cooler and wetter, our winters, warmer. Since almost every glacier in the world has begun melting in the last twenty years, I am not sure the average temperature in MD has much to do with it.

    Also, I wouldn’t call a rise in ocean levels a benign problem. It doesn’t take much to engulf vast acreages in water, and a foot or three is as good as a half mile when it comes to human living space.

    Lots of people smarter than you or I have concluded that there is something happening to our earth regarding the climate, and a majority of climate scientists say that our earth’s climate IS growing warmer.

    Are Humans at fault? I don’t know, and I think that even the experts are not completely comfortable with the answers they come up with.

    That doesn’t say that we should just keep spewing six digit figures worth of tons of pollution into our atmosphere, even if we find that our activities aren’t the answer. Sooner or later, it WILL come back to haunt us, hell, with the numbers of folks that get sick daily over that pollution now, it IS coming back to haunt us.

    We just haven’t figured out how to include that human cost into the cost of doing business for those businesses that spew it into the air, and every time we try, folks like the US Chamber of Commerce start getting nasty.

    That’s what this is about. Unless you are a LOT younger than I, neither of us will be here to be able to settle the issue between us as to which may be right regarding climate change – it is that slow to manifest itself.

    But people are getting sick now, today and tomorrow, over these same pollutants, and THAT my friend, we CAN do something about today.

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  6. Howie Isaacks Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    This is a stupid move. Apple needs to stay out of politics.

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  7. What is Apple’s official position regarding “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the NONgovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)”? This 880 page report, found at this web site, http://www.nipccreport.org/ is a detailed, authoritative rebuttal of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings, which the Obama Administration and many European governments rely on for their regulatory proposals.

    What is Apple’s official position regarding allegations that the IPCC reports fall short of EPA guidelines requiring highly influential scientific assessments to meet a variety of standards for transparency, data availability and due diligence?

    Has Apple done its own due diligence assessments of IPCC reports to assure its customers and viewers of its web site that information conveyed by Apple on the issue of global warming is above reproach? If those assessments have been done for Apple, can Apple provide specific references in IPCC reports where theories of natural causes for the current global warming have been disproved, or more simply, show that the IPCC had any requirement to also evaluate potential natural causes?

    If Apple takes the position that there is a scientific consensus in favor of the idea of human-caused global warming, is Apple prepared to show how “consensus” is the new operating standard of scientific inquiry across all fields of study?

    If Apple’s position is that global warming skeptic scientists operate under guidance from industries opposing CO2 regulation, is Apple prepared to provide specific proof of improper payments to those scientists, and specific proof of faults in the scientists’ reports that are obvious indications of industry-guided science errors?

    Is Apple able to demonstrate how energy sustainability and stewardship of the environment are synonymous with CO2 regulation, considering the questions above?

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  8. I had a lot more respect for Steve Jobs and Apple, before Apple dumbly sided with the fake global warming issue. Can’t Apple feel the cold?

    Bad timing, Steve. The tipping point is going against global warming.

    I know, I know, you’re sick, and just can’t keep up. Retire already.

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  9. Emissions at Apple manufacturers must “as required by applicable laws and regulations before discharge.” What corporate pap. There are few if any environmental laws and regulations in the Asian countries where Apple products are made. How facile. How about Apple agreeing that all of their manufactures must abide by the equivalent of American pollution laws and regulations? Apple’s resignation from USCoC implies no principled position, just more corporate greenwashing to please their hip greenie artiste customer base.

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  10. It is disappointing that that one of America’s most admired technology firms has chosen to cancel its membership over a disagreement on public policy rather than using the logic of its arguments to persuade others to its point of view. The US Chamber is an organization of many companies, large and small, and has a system of policy committees that democratically vote on policies and positions. How does it make sense when you don’t get your way to simply resign and protest? The Chamber is involved in many, many business issues and it is very common that not all of its members agree on every issue. But it is short sighted to resign one’s membership over a single issue policy dispute. The end result is that Apple cedes any influence in influencing the Chamber’s positions. That is too bad because Apple has a lot to contribute in the public discourse. And, unfortunately, the result will be that Apple’s voice will not be heard in the Chamber’s deliberations, all the more unfortunate since the US Chamber is the single-most influential voice on business issues at the national level.

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