OUR VIEW; WHEN PNM BOLTS, THE U.S. CHAMBER IS OUT OF STEP.From its formidable, pillared Washington headquarters, built before the Great Depression to resemble and rival nearby bastions of government, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest not-for-profit federation of businesses, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations in the United States. As of 2003, the chamber was comprised of 3000 state and local chambers and 830 business associations. has long wielded enormous power over our nation's legislative and executive branches. Its lobbyists are as familiar as the furniture in most congressional offices, and they're highly influential.
To call the organization reactionary would be to put it mildly, even when many of its reactions to taxes and too much government have made sense. But during recent decades, a certain number of Neanderthals have gained ascendancy at Chamber headquarters. What once was a rational champion of sound business practices for government has become so ideologically extremist that it's losing some of its long-loyal members.
Take clean energy -- a movement the Chamber could have embraced, thus gaining adherents among the more progressive companies around the country. Instead, it is waging a public-relations campaign Noun 1. public-relations campaign - an advertising campaign intended to improve public relations
ad blitz, ad campaign, advertising campaign - an organized program of advertisements against the notion of global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. . Like the right-wing politicians it has long embraced, the group is demanding a scientific trial -- purportedly to determine whether global warming is a threat to human existence.
But would the scientists conducting it be cherry-picked by the Chamber's political operatives? Probably. At any rate, some leading power companies already have enough evidence of global warming, and their coal-fired generators' role in it, to know they need to change their atmosphere-damaging ways.
One such company is Public Service Company of New Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S). . Long criticized for polluting pol·lute
tr.v. pol·lut·ed, pol·lut·ing, pol·lutes
1. To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter. See Synonyms at contaminate.
2. and energy wasting, PNM PNM Public Service Company of New Mexico
PNM People's National Movement (Trinidad)
PNM Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia (National Library, Malaysia)
PNM Price Negotiation Memorandum has become a national leader in alternative energy. So late last month, the company resigned from the Chamber -- just days after the California giant Pacific Gas and Electric had done the same. The huge eastern combine Exelon also walked away. And computerdom's Apple also has joined the exodus.
They've done so as Congress researches climate-and-energy issues in advance of debate over a bill defending our atmosphere, and as international negotiators prepare to follow up on the recent Pittsburgh summit of leading industrial nations with clear-skies treaties.
Chamber officials have been backpedaling over what their "trial" would be testing -- climate-change science itself or the science setting Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and rules on carbon emissions. But PNM and its colleagues, already committed to clean energy on solid scientific grounds, already had been sufficiently embarrassed. They'll go their own progressive way.
As PNM spokesman Don Brown put it, "as the climate change debate has gone on, it has become clear to us that our position and the U.S. Chamber's position are not reconcilable rec·on·cil·a·ble
Capable of or qualified for reconciliation: reconcilable differences.
PNM has its own lobbying to do on the renewable-energy front -- an effort that bears watching by New Mexicans who might prefer more competition in energy than PNM would care for. And, as Brown told The Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. , "it doesn't make sense to us to be actively lobbying in D.C. for federal legislation at the same time that we're a member of an association that is aggressively opposing climate change legislation."
The new directions being taken by PNM have been long in coming -- but they've gained momentum in recent years, and they're certainly welcome.