Time to Wake Up: National Association of Manufacturers
Mr. President, I am here for my 197th ‘‘Time to Wake Up’’ speech. My poster board is getting a little dog-eared, but we keep moving doggedly along.
Last week, I spoke about corporate America outsourcing its lobbying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—a determined enemy of any action on climate change. When pro-climate companies support the chamber, they support its anti-climate lobbying, its anti-climate election spending and threatening, and they enable the chamber’s anti-climate stranglehold with the fossil fuel industry on Congress.
The chamber is not alone in its anti-climate advocacy on behalf of corporate America. Another big Washington trade association obstructing climate action, despite having been a pro-climate action member, is the National Association of Manufacturers, often called NAM.
Over the last two decades, NAM has spent more than $150 million lobbying the Federal Government, and each year, NAM lobbies extensively for the fossil fuel industry. Here are some of the greatest hits of NAM’s fossil fuel lobbying. NAM lobbies to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Arctic. I wonder how many of its members want to be out there supporting offshore drilling in all those areas.
NAM advocates for the continued use of coal in the electric power and industrial sectors. There is not a congressional district left where a majority of voters don’t want coal-plant emissions regulated. Yet there is NAM. NAM lobbies to roll back fuel economy standards that save consumers billions of dollars at the pump. Never mind that the equipment that keeps cars cleaner is manufactured; the National Association of Manufacturers is opposed.
NAM sent what it calls a key vote letter to all Members of Congress urging repeal of a rule to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining pollution. More on that in a moment. NAM urged the Trump administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. More on that in a moment too. Finally, NAM opposes any efforts to put a price on carbon pollution. Back to that key vote letter. ‘‘The NAM’s Key Vote Advisory Committee has indicated that votes on H.J. Res. 38, including procedural motions, may be considered for designation as Key Manufacturing Votes in the 115th Congress.’’ This letter warns Members of Congress to vote the way the group wants or risk losing out on its endorsements and all the campaign support that goes with it. Who knows—run up a bad enough score and NAM may support your opponent.
Well, you would think protecting streams and drinking water from pollution from coal mines would be nothing but common sense. Streams fouled by coal mining waste literally run orange. This is the actual photograph; this is not a black-and-white photograph that has been color-corrected. This stream is running orange. As one West Virginia woman whose local stream was contaminated told the New York Times, ‘‘Orange is not the color of water.’’ But NAM and its fossil fuel allies opposed those clean water protections. Why? Where is the manufacturing value in streams that look like that? Follow the money. Look at the National Association of Manufacturers’ major donors. A lot of the usual suspects—coal companies, oil companies, and Koch-owned oil production companies.
But here is what is strange. There are also a lot of companies that care about climate and sustainability that fund the National Association of Manufacturers. Just look at the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Pfizer, and UnitedHealth all belong to and fund NAM. If you go on their websites, you will find them urging people to live healthier, longer lives. So why are they lobbying through NAM to let coal companies make streams look like this?
You will find these companies, on their websites, touting their commitments to sustainability and to reduce carbon emissions. So why are they lobbying through the National Association of Manufacturers against climate policies they actually support?
The National Association of Manufacturers rather inexplicably opposes all serious climate action. In particular, it opposes putting a price on carbon emissions. It even funded a debunked study that claimed putting an economy-wide price on carbon would cost millions of jobs. It lobbied for a legislative amendment making it more difficult to begin pricing carbon. But look at NAM’s own member companies that are already pricing carbon emissions. Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Corning, Microsoft, and Stanley Black & Decker all apply a price on carbon in their own internal management and accounting. They understand that pricing carbon doesn’t kill jobs. They understand that pricing carbon makes economic and environmental sense.
Here in Congress, what we see is NAM claiming to represent them but actually carrying water for the fossil fuel industry and waging full-scale war on good climate policy. Just like with the chamber’s pro-climate members, we see essentially no pushback when the ostensible mouthpiece for these companies lobbies against these companies’ stated position. Why would you, as a big American corporation, take a position on a very big issue and then delegate your lobbying to an entity in Washington that is opposed to your stated position? Indeed, we see virtually no corporate lobbying by anyone for good climate policy.
Even companies with an internal carbon price don’t lobby for a carbon price. The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, which Sen. Schatz and I have introduced in the last two Congresses, would create an economy-wide price on carbon emissions, using market forces to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect our future, and improve public health. It would be border adjustable to protect American companies from unfair competition abroad, and it would return all of the revenue it raised to the American people. Liberal and conservative economists agree that this is the best way to tackle climate change. But the National Association of Manufacturers, on behalf of its fossil fuel allies, opposes us. It protects at all costs the massive market failure that allows the fossil fuel industry to duck the costs of its pollution. That is market failure 101.
It is not just that. NAM opposed cap and trade. NAM opposed the Paris Agreement. NAM sued to stop the Clean Power Plan. NAM supports the climate deniers of the Trump administration. They have no alternative, no better idea, no other way that they want to address the climate crisis; they are just against any serious action on climate change.
Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Corning, Microsoft, and Stanley Black & Decker are members of NAM. All of them supported the Paris Agreement, but all this time, they continue to fund the National Association of Manufacturers. It doesn’t make any sense.
These companies are already pricing carbon. They know it is good policy. They support the Paris Agreement. Yet they fund the trade advocacy group that is pulling out all the stops to kill the policy they support and the agreement they support. I asked last week, and I will ask again: When is the cavalry going to get here?
Lots of pro-climate companies fund the National Association of Manufacturers’ anti-climate crusade. It is bizarre, but it is true. Intel says it ‘‘believes that global climate change is a serious environmental, economic and social challenge that warrants an equally serious response by governments and the private sector,’’ but Intel funds NAM as NAM fights any response by governments. KPMG has an entire practice area devoted to advising companies on the emerging risks and hazards of climate change, but KPMG funds NAM as NAM ignores and talks down those very hazards.
McCormick is focused on reducing its carbon emissions and, like a lot of good companies, even expects its suppliers to do the same, but McCormick also funds the National Association of Manufacturers.
Pernod Ricard is committed to reducing its carbon emissions, but Pernod Ricard funds NAM. Procter & Gamble says: As a global citizen, we are concerned about the negative consequences of climate change. We believe industry, governments, and consumers can work together to reduce emissions to protect the environment. That is what they believe, but they fund the National Association of Manufacturers, which tries to stop any such effort.
Verizon is so concerned about climate change that it has reduced its own emissions by over 50 percent, but Verizon still funds the National Association of Manufacturers.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Company after company claims that addressing climate change is their priority, and many do great things— truly great things—inside their fence lines and in many cases even out their supply chains, demanding sustainability compliance out their supply chains. But here, where the rubber hits the lawmaking road in Congress, the corporate support is for groups leading the war against climate action here in Washington, and virtually none of the companies show up here on the other side.
It is not as though they say: OK, I will support the National Association of Manufacturers and their efforts to obstruct any climate action, but I am going to come down and make clear on my own, in my own lobbying, that we want climate action. I am going to offset the lobbying that this group I fund does against the position I espouse. No, they don’t do that. They almost never come in on their own to support good climate policy to counterbalance what their own advocates are advocating when their own advocates are advocating against them, which explains why the fossil fuel guys keep on winning here in Congress. It is easy to win when the other side doesn’t show up or, if they do, shows up wearing your jersey.
Here is how bad it is. The National Association of Manufacturers and the chamber and the fossil fuel industry hired a bunch of Washington lobbyists to create a fake consumer group called the Consumer Energy Alliance. This fake consumer group then created a fake initiative in Kentucky called— these names are always so comical— Kentuckians for Solar Fairness. What is the goal? The goal is to support Kentucky legislation making it harder for consumers to sell rooftop solar power back to the big utilities.
NAM is behind this scheme. Why? If you are Johnson & Johnson or Cargill or Corning or Microsoft or KPMG or Procter & Gamble, why do you want to be associated with a scheme like this? Remember, this is ostensibly the National Association of Manufacturers. Out in the real world, there is a lot of manufacturing going on in renewable energy.
We manufactured offshore wind turbines in Rhode Island’s waters. Rhode Island boat builder Blount Marine even got the contract to manufacture the new boat to get technicians out to service the manufacturer turbines. The framing on which our offshore wind turbines stand was manufactured in Louisiana. Solar arrays are manufactured and installed all around the country, providing more American jobs than coal. In Texas alone, solar provides nearly 9,000 jobs, and more than 1.6 gigawatts of solar capacity has been manufactured and installed in Texas. Go to Iowa, where one-third of their electricity is from wind, and look how much ground-based wind turbine manufacturing and maintenance is going on—really good jobs.
Why is the National Association of Manufacturers so violently opposed to manufacturing in the renewable energy industry? Why does NAM get involved in a Kentucky utility regulatory issue with nothing apparent to do with manufacturing? Why is the National Association of Manufacturers exactly and perfectly aligned with the fossil fuel industry and not its own membership on so many issues? In Washington, the fossil fuel lobby is relentless. They have a bad name and an obvious conflict of interest, so they like to do their political dirty work through groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I get it. Disguise is an age-old tactic. But why does corporate America put up with having its trade association used as disguise to fight climate action and to get involved in State quarrels that benefit only the fossil fuel industry?
The effect of corporate America allowing its trade groups to be captured by fossil fuel interests is that corporate America is now, for all practical purposes, collectively united against climate action in Congress. Say whatever they say on their websites; do whatever they do within their fence lines or out their supply chains; sign whatever they sign by way of letters and advertisements; that is all good, but when it comes to Congress, where the lawmaking rubber hits the road, corporate America is collectively united against climate action, either through direct antagonism like the fossil fuel industry or by letting antagonists like the National Association of Manufacturers and the chamber be their lobbying intermediaries and erase their good climate policies by the time they get to Congress and replace them with the fossil fuel industry’s climate denial or by simply ducking the fight and not showing up on game day.
If we are going to meet America’s responsibilities and finally pass good climate policy, we are going to need everyone, including corporate America, to do their part. Right now, fossil fuel interests from corporate America are all over the field, armed and ready for battle, and the good guys are not even showing up at the game. I yield the floor.
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