Carbon emission limit opposed by Chamber

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting editorial recently about the short-sightedness of some major corporations that were resigning from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over their disagreement with the Chamber’s policy on the “cap and trade” legislation.

These corporations chastised the national chamber for not going along with the Obama administration’s plans to put strict limits on carbon emissions and place a de facto tax on any that exceed the limit. The chamber—along with many business and trade associations—is concerned that the negative impact on jobs and the economy that such a system would engender would be a huge barrier to economic growth in America.

The Wall Street Journal editorial noted the hypocrisy of some of the companies that manufacture most of their products in foreign countries that have no intentions of ever signing on to any international agreements that would limit carbon emissions. Those less developed countries are all for anti-global warming measures for the developed nations, but not for themselves.  Such sanctions would undoubtedly lead to relocations of industries from heavily regulated countries into less regulated ones.  Jobs and investment would move from Europe and the United States into countries such as China, India, and Mexico.

Having been an association executive for most of my professional life, I can understand how the folks at the U.S. Chamber must feel about this strife within their ranks.

Members sometimes get caught up in a single issue and forget about the wide expanse of problems that an organization helps them with over the years. If they don’t succeed in changing the policy of the organization in question, some take their ball and leave. It happens at some point within every organization that takes a real stand on tough issues—and the U.S. Chamber never backs away from a fight when the well-being of the general business community is threatened.

Some of the corporations pulling their support from the chamber may soon realize they are making a mistake. As the Wall Street Journal points out, if carbon emission controls are enacted by our Congress, the story doesn’t end there.

Environmentalists, protectionists in Congress and labor unions will push strongly for “carbon tariffs” to stop even more U.S. jobs from leaving our shores. The cost advantage some of the U.S. Chamber’s dissident members now enjoy may evaporate. They may then realize that trying to pressure or punish a viable organization working to bring some sanity to the climate change legislative proposals was, indeed, a short-sighted strategy.

One of the most chilling aspects of the entire global warming debate is the effort to silence skeptics and critics of the “conventional wisdom” about the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. Prominent scientists who have an opposing view on the subject find that they are denied grants to conduct their research and have a hard time publishing their findings. They feel much like Galileo must have felt when summoned to meet with the Vatican hierarchy regarding the “heresy” of his astronomical observations.

Challenging the dogma of the powerful is a dangerous thing to do.

Fortunately for the U.S. Chamber, most of its membership and many in Congress have grave concerns about sacrificing jobs and the economy for a hypothesis that will take hundreds—if not thousands—of years to validate. The thousands of businesses who are tired of seeing regulation, red tape, and taxation run amok in Washington are standing with the Chamber and applauding it for being a forceful and effective advocate for business, industry, and the free enterprise system that pays the bills our government is extremely effective at creating.

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