(Adds more comments from Chamber of Commerce)
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON Oct 8 U.S. Energy Secretary Steven
Chu on Thursday applauded companies that have quit the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce because they disagree with the business
group's climate change policy.
"I think it's wonderful," Chu told reporters at a solar
energy event on the National Mall. He said companies that left
the Chamber object "to foot dragging, to denials" and realize
that efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses are "part
of our economic future in the United States."
Chu said other companies should quit the group if the
Chamber does not recognize the business opportunities presented
by taking aggressive action against global warming.
But he also urged the Chamber to change its position.
"I would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to realize the
economic opportunity that the United States can lead in a new
industrial revolution," said Chu, a supporter of alternative
fuels and strong regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
Technology company Apple Inc (AAPL.O) resigned from the
Chamber on Monday. Last month three big power utilities, Exelon
Corp (EXC.N), PG&E Corp (PCG.N)and PNM Resources Inc, said they
were leaving the Chamber.
Other companies have criticized the Chamber, which has
pushed for public hearings to challenge the scientific evidence
of man-made climate change.
The group now says it does not plan to dispute the science
behind global warming. But Chamber President Tom Donohue
defended his group's climate change position and told reporters
the companies that left faced an "orchestrated pressure
campaign" by environmental organizations.
"It's pretty clear because we've heard it from our own
companies that a number of environmental groups are trying to
apply some pressure on Chamber companies to apply pressure on
us to change our views" on climate legislation passed by the
House of Representatives, Donohue said at a press conference.
Donohue said his group supports crafting U.S. climate
change legislation and an international agreement to fit its
views of compatibility compatible with strong economic growth.
He said the climate bill the House of Representatives passed in
June does not meet this criteria.
Donohue downplayed the significance of four companies
quitting the 300,000 member Chamber, and said the group will
continue to oppose climate policies it views as too onerous.
"We're not changing where we are. We're going to be very
responsive to people's questions," he said. "But we thought
long and hard about what was important here and we're not going
Senate Democrats unveiled their version of the bill last
week that built on the House legislation.
(Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner and Ayesha Rascoe;
Editing by David Gregorio)