US Chamber of Commerce Takes A Bite out of Apple

A day after Apple became the latest major company to quit the US Chamber of Commerce over its reactionary stance on climate change, Chamber president Tom Donohue went on the offensive, claiming Apple CEO Steve Jobs had “forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change.”

Yesterday Donohue sent a pissy letter to Jobs talking up Chamber’s efforts to “tackle climate change in a way that will strengthen our economy” and concluding that “it is a shame that Apple will not be part of our efforts.” As he often does, Donohue emphasised that the Chamber represents “more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.” It was as if to say that Apple, and not the Chamber, was on the fringe of the climate issue.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As I reported in detail today, the Chamber has offered few ways for its members to influence its policy work, and that’s especially true in the case of climate change. Interviews with current and former board members reveal that the Chamber’s leadership violated its written rules by pursuing an obstructionist approach to climate legislation without getting a vote of approval from its board or committees. And even the board–made of of huge, often petro-intensive companies–scarcely resembles the overall US business community.

On Monday, Apple’s vice president of worldwide government affairs had sent a letter to the Chamber exhorting Donohue to think different. “We strongly object to the Chamber’s recent comments opposing the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases,” she said. “We would prefer that the Chamber take a more productive stance on this critical issue and play a constructive role in addressing the climate crisis.”

So would many environmental groups. Sensing weakness in the nation’s largest business lobby, the Natural Resources Defense Council recently launched print ads and a website asking, “Who does the Chamber represent?” Read today’s investigative piece on the Chamber for some answers.