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Chamber Gets a Free Pass on Climate Gaffe

Last week, when the Chamber of Commerce announced it would petition the EPA to hold a "Scopes Monkey Trial" on the science behind global warming, we wondered whether some of the Chamber’s more climate-friendly members might protest. Since then, the Chamber has reconsidered the whole idea of explicitly casting itself as a modern-day creationist movement, but it's still set on quibbling with the climate science underlying the EPA's finding that carbon-dioxide endangers public health.

Take Duke Energy, a prominent supporter of climate action and, incidentally, a Chamber of Commerce board member. Just this morning, Duke announced it would be leaving the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity because of "influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation." And, in May, Duke had left the National Association of Manufacturers for similar reasons—because the group wasn’t “pulling in the same direction” on working to address greenhouse gases. So does that mean Duke is going to be pulling out of the Chamber of Commerce, too?

Well…no. A Duke spokesman told me this morning that the company had no plans to leave the Chamber; nor was Duke planning to push the organization toward a more moderate stance on climate. The Chamber represents Duke on other issues, according to spokesman Tom Williams, and has member businesses in a broad range of industries: “We advocate on their behalf as well as our behalf,” he explained. Granted, that hasn't stopped companies like Nike and Johnson & Johnson from criticizing the Chamber over its climate stance, but Duke seems reluctant to follow suit. Being valuable to companies on many fronts gives the Chamber more leeway, it seems.