Help needed: White House seeks CEO support for climate plan


Democrats are working to mobilize corporate support for their $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation plan as the fossil fuel industry and other industries seek to kill the extent of the party line filled with ‘climate initiatives.

The White House urges companies and CEOs to promote the climate investments of the reconciliation package, if not all of the legislation. Conservationists are trying to organize support for Inc. and other big companies that have made their own climate commitments as well as big employers like Walmart who have a big footprint in the states of Democratic lawmakers moderate.

So far, that effort lags behind the opposition campaigns of major trade associations like the US Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, whose members include companies that claim to support climate action. These traditional business groups focus primarily on stopping corporate tax increases, although they have also targeted several climate provisions.

The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, is spearheading opposition to tax changes that could make drillers pay more. His American Petroleum Institute lobby group also opposes clean energy tax credits and a clean electricity payment program – the backbone of the Democrats’ climate agenda – as well as a new royalty on methane.

Democrats – after organizing corporate support for other climate policies, such as the auto industry’s backing for tougher tailpipe pollution rules – are starting to worry about the imbalance of lobbying and corporate messages.

President Biden’s team is trying to sideline companies. The administration is calling on companies from all sectors to “put all their efforts into tackling the climate crisis,” a White House spokesman said.

“It is not possible to say that you support the fight against the climate crisis and that you simultaneously oppose the biggest investment and the most important legislative vehicle to build a stronger and more resilient economy,” the door said. -speak.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed by the Senate this summer has received much stronger corporate support, including from groups now campaigning against the reconciliation bill.

Democrats are pointing out to business that the fate of the bipartisan bill is tied to the larger reconciliation bill, a lawyer said, even as centrist lawmakers tried to separate the two.

Just as Democrats seek out local employers who can tout the potential benefits of the legislation, the API is organizing oil and gas companies to argue that targeting the industry would hurt local economies.

“Sometimes the best voices in the debate are the voters who work closely with these decision makers,” said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of political, economic and regulatory affairs at API.

“It’s convincing for [lawmakers] to hear from experts or advocacy groups in Washington, DC But at the end of the day it’s even more impactful for them to hear from their constituents, ”he added.

Under the banner of an API-funded group called Energy Citizens, the oil industry has flooded Facebook with hundreds of ads voicing concerns about the reconciliation plan and targeting Democrats in inner city neighborhoods who may face most in the heat for supporting the bill.

“OUR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE IS AT STAKE,” shouts an ad that shows what appears to be an incomplete elevated railroad. “INCREASING TAX IS A BAD IDEA.”

The ad was launched in mid-July and may have been seen by more than a million people in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states, according to summary data from Facebook Inc’s Ad Disclosure Library.

Earlier this week, Energy Citizens launched dozens of similar promotions aimed at voters of centrist Democrats like Senate candidate Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania. The ad listed the phone number for the local Lamb’s Mount Lebanon office and urged voters to call.

API coordinates these efforts with other industry groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers. These groups also object to the price of the package, its timing, and the expedited reconciliation process by which it takes place.

This campaign has already borne fruit. Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) yesterday released a editorial in The the Wall Street newspaper echoing these concerns. Industry groups cited him in their own appeals.

Business support for Democrats’ plans, meanwhile, has been curtailed. Some advocates attribute this to the nature of the reconciliation process; companies often want to review legislation before publicly approving it, but the content of the Democrats’ bill remains in flux.

Environmentalists and their allies in business advocacy fear that businesses are wasting an opportunity to ensure emerging legislation includes strong climate provisions.

“What I’ve heard from the folks on Capitol Hill is that very few companies really show up,” said Bill Weihl, founder and executive director of ClimateVoice, a nonprofit focused on promoting the defense of the business climate. “And I think that’s a huge problem.”

Weihl, who previously led sustainability efforts at Google and Facebook, is working with employees in Silicon Valley to mobilize internal support for the climate components of the reconciliation package.

The tech giants are among Washington’s largest and most powerful advocacy groups, but they have played a minor role in the climate policy debate in recent years (Climate wire, November 16, 2020).

Amazon spent more than $ 10.1 million on lobbying in the first half of 2021 – the most of any company, according to data compiled by transparency group OpenSecrets. Part of this was devoted to ‘sustainability issues’ and ‘sustainable infrastructure and transport’, pushing for disclosure. deposits spectacle.

But Amazon is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, both of which have spoken out against corporate tax increases Democrats are proposing to help foot the bill for reconciliation.

“The House will do everything in its power to prevent this tax-raising and job-killing reconciliation bill from becoming law,” said Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the House, in a statement. last week.

Amazon did not respond to an interview request or questions about how it engages lawmakers and its business associations around the reconciliation bill.

Facebook, whose platform the oil industry uses to oppose climate legislation, also did not respond to questions or a request for an interview. The social media giant has spent more than $ 9.5 million on lobbying so far this year, the second-highest number of companies. He has disclosed lobbying on “climate change issues”.

Climate advocates want to learn more about influential companies like Amazon, Facebook and Walmart, which have nearly 1.6 million workers in the United States and are one of the leaders of the We Are Still In climate coalition.

Walmart is also the second largest employer in Arizona and West Virginia, where centrist Democratic senators will have disproportionate influence over the fate of the reconciliation package.

Companies with net zero emissions commitments must “advocate that there are laws in place to enable them to achieve their goals,” said Anne Kelly, lead lobbyist for Ceres, an advocacy group. sustainable investments. “If you are determined to achieve your goals, you must defend accordingly.”

This means that the companies themselves need to get involved, she said.

“Trade associations don’t always responsibly reflect the climate ambitions of their members,” Kelly said. “More must intervene individually and on their own behalf and not trust what their professional associations say on their behalf. “

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