The Anti-Chamber

| Thu Nov. 5, 2009 4:10 PM EST

The Chamber of Commerce may be taking an ever-so-slightly less obstructionist approach to climate issues lately. But now it has some new competition in the lobbying realm: American Businesses for Clean Energy, a coalition that has formed to push for climate legislation.

The group, which debuted on Wednesday, has 23 members, ranging from retailers like The Gap to major utility PNM Resources of New Mexico, one of the companies that quit the Chamber over its climate stance.

"There's a real hunger on behalf of businesses to have their voices heard, and for Congress to realize they are really clamoring for legislation," says Jenn Kramer, a spokesperson for New Jersey utility PSEG, another member of the new coalition. "Absent a price on carbon there's a real paralysis in the energy industry in terms of making investment decisions."

The group isn't pushing for specific targets, timetables, or funding for various energy sources. Their stated goal is simply to encourage Congress to enact "clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The new coalition isn't the only pro-climate business group out there. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, launched in January 2007, is a business-environmental coalition that includes 26 major companies, and crafted a blueprint for climate legislation in January that became the framework for both the House and Senate bills. Two USCAP members—FPL, a Florida utility, and PNM—are also part of the new coalition.

And in March, the sustainable business group Ceres launched Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (or BICEP, for short) to advocate for climate legislation. That group is more oriented to companies that provide consumer products, like Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, and Starbucks.