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 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.