The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is “the world’s largest business federation,” serving as a...
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is “the world’s largest business federation,” serving as a large-scale lobbying and litigation group for American businesses. The Chamber, led by CEO Tom Donohue, promotes largely conservative and libertarian values, particularly a free-market ideology.
The USCC website professes to represent “more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions” but upon closer inspection it actually has 300,000 members. The Chamber claims that over 90% of its members are small businesses, although its Board of Directors and national policy efforts show its heavy influence from large-scale corporations, especially since Tom Donohue became president and CEO in 1997. Additionally, only 249 of the 7,000 local chambers are members of the USCC, and a third of the Chamber's funding comes from just 19 corporations. Prior to Donohue, the Chamber supported Clinton’s healthcare reform and other projects opposed by the GOP and large corporations. With Donohue in charge, the Chamber rarely strays from the GOP platform and never challenges the policies of its corporate financers.
Several important corporate members, most notably Apple and utility companies Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon, have also left the Chamber because of Donohue’s position on global warming. Nike, Johnson and Johnson, and others have quit their board member positions and threatened to leave completely if Donohue and the Chamber did not own up to the reality of climate change. The Chamber has consistently blocked attempts at regulating greenhouse gasses and has even called for climate science and the EPA to be put "on trial.”
The Chamber spent over $95 million on lobbying in 2012 (quarters 1-3); their total lobbying expenditures in the last five years amount to $530,658,500--more than any other single political entity. Portions of this money have been used to influence specific legislative amendments to the U.S. House American Clean Energy and Security Act, and energy-relation provisions of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The Chamber’s Political Action Committee has spent over $640,000 on political candidates and committees since the 2008 cycle.
Following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the Chamber used a $75 million budget to help elect notably conservative candidates in 2010. Over 80 corporations outside of U.S. borders contributed to the Chamber before the election, raising ethical concerns about funneling foreign money for domestic electioneering. The Chamber spent $33 million on electioneering communications designed to support or oppose target candidates in the 2010 election.
While Tom Donohue and the Chamber publicly expresses a willingness to address climate change, it has opposed all viable efforts to do so. Following an EPA decision to classify carbon dioxide, as a greenhouse gas, as hazardous to human health, the Chamber submitted comments to the agency claiming that planetary warming would “be beneficial to humans.”
A significant portion of the Chamber's Board of Directors represent companies that produce or burn fossil fuels.
The Chamber spent over $4 million on advertisements relating to energy and the environment in 2010.
In cooperation with Scholastic, the US Chamber designed a teaching program on US energy sources for schools that presents information selectively in order to favor the importance of fossil fuel energy such as coal.