A new partnership between industry and Congress?

Handshake and teamworkOne of the most striking aspects of the greenhoyse gas bill before the House of Representatives is that it has the support of some of the largest corporations in America such as General Electric, Duke Energy, Dow, Shell, DuPont, ConocoPhillips, BP America and Pepsico.

Twenty three major corporations and 5 environmental groups had formed a coalition known as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) several years ago to provide input in the drafting of the greenhouse gas bill. The corporation that started USCAP is General Electric whose CEO wrote in an op-ed piece in 2005 that environmental “polices that commit to market-based approaches will drive innovation and lead to environmental improvements.”

Membership in USCAP includes the following companies and environmental groups: Alcoa, Boston Scientific,  BP America, Caterpillar, Chrysler, ConocoPhillips, Dow, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense Fund,  Exelon,  Ford,  FPL Group, GE,  GM, John Deere, Johnson & Johnson,  Natural Resources Defense Council,  The Nature Conservancy, NRG Energy, PepsiCo, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PG&E, PNM Resources, RioTinto, Shell, Siemens, World Resources Institute.

Instead of opposing any new laws from Congress, these companies decided to work with major environmental groups to forge a consesus in the drafting of a greenhouse gas bill. In fact, the pending cap-and-trade legislation before the House is based in large part on the recommendations of the USCAP Blueprint for Legislative Action that was issued on January15, 2009.

Corporate America learned its lessions some 20 years ago. When congress proposed regulating a dozen or so hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) back in the 80s, the chemical industry fought back very hard to oppose any changes. The end result was the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments that mandated much more stringent regulations on 189 HAPs. The program is known as National Emission Standards on Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) which imposes stringent and costly “maximum achievable control technologies” (MACT) on major industries that emit HAPs.

To prevent history from repeatingitself, industries decided this time around to actively engage in the process to affect a more favorable outcome.


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