I used to think of the Chamber of Commerce as a group of local businesspeople who care about their local communities and try to steer business to one another. In the 1990s, I was even a member. So a news item caught my attention: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Sues EPA over climate regulations. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/08/16/16greenwire-us-chamber-sues-epa-over-greenhouse-gas-endang-81491.html
I thought, “Say it ain’t so.” Why does a CPA in Beaverton, Oregon or Peoria, Illinois want to pay to sue the United States of America over regulations? So I checked the Chamber’s website. Sure enough, they admit suing the USA. The Chamber “challenges the wisdom of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.” http://library.uschamber.com/press/releases/2010/august/us-chamber-challenges-wisdom-regulating-climate-change-under-clean-air-ac
(What? Instead, we should use the Clean Water Act, or Endangered Species Act?) So, who is this group? Wikipedia says it spends nearly $100 million in lobbying and favors Republicans in campaign donations, 89% to 11%. The Chamber supports “drill baby drill” offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Previously, it sought a trial on the science of climate change. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/25/nation/na-climate-trial25
Some high profile members, including Nike and Pacific Gas & Electric quit in protest over the Chambers’ views on climate change.
So why does the Chamber care enough to hire lawyers to sue the United States of America (i.e. taxpayers)? Well, in Watergate, the mantra was, “follow the money.” According to sourcewatch.org, the answer is that, since 1997, the Chamber has served as an arm of the Republican Party. Oil companies are among the dominant forces.
Maybe it’s time for local small businesspeople to find other networking opportunities and quit the chamber, too.