Green Pressure Groups Try to Split National Association of Manufacturers

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National business associations have been targets of intimidation tactics by environmentalist groups for some time now. For example, Greenpeace trespassed on the grounds of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the eco-gangs attacked their climate change positions to the point where individual members left the organization. Meanwhile “Green” investors have pressured companies to leave the chamber as well.

The environmental groups have similarly gone after the National Association of Manufacturers, and now “Green” investment groups have turned up their campaign against corporate members of the group to “explain themselves” with regard to “contradictory stances” between what the companies individually say about climate change, versus the position that NAM takes. Specifically the eco-financiers are upset that in March NAM backed an amendment to a small business bill that would prevent EPA from “overregulation” of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources (that is, smokestacks from industry and utilities). NAM explained:

Manufacturers support a comprehensive federal climate policy within a framework that will cause no economic harm, while granting sufficient time to deploy low-carbon technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration, renewable energy and a renewed and large-scale deployment of nuclear power plants. We encourage Congress to have a substantive and realistic debate regarding GHG regulation before the EPA implements costly protocols on emissions from stationary sources, which will include manufacturing facilities.

If left unchecked, these EPA regulations will only discourage any long-term investments necessary to grow jobs and expedite economic recovery, placing America at a disadvantage in the global marketplace.

Apparently that stance isn’t good enough. In mid-May 23 Green investment company leaders – many whose priority is to force business to adopt a sustainability agenda and/or other “social responsibility” initiatives – co-signed letters to companies who are also board members of NAM. The investors’ targets are a literal who’s-who of major corporations, which include: AT&T, Bayer, Boeing, ConAgra Foods, Conoco Phillips, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Heinz, Nucor, Pfizer, Proctor and Gamble, Shell, Toyota and Verizon.

In the letters the investors note how the member companies have individually reported about their own efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or to otherwise address global warming via energy efficiency, plus other environmentalist goals such as reduction of waste, etc. So, they ask, why do AT&T, et al, still maintain their memberships on the board of NAM?

We believe your perceived support as a Board member for NAM's recent letter to Congress seeking to strip the EPA of any authority to address climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is harmful to the company's image and good work on the environment. We would like to learn more about how you reconcile the company's position on climate change and sustainability with NAM's position.

Two leaders among the several Green finance groups that are leading the attack on NAM are Walden Asset Management and Calvert Investments. Both emphasize “social goals” and “sustainability” as high priorities in their investment strategies. Walden says, “raising public awareness of a social, environmental or corporate governance issue is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself.” Among its accomplishments it claims for itself is its persuasion of major beverage companies to include recycled materials in plastic bottles, and pressuring major pharmacy chains to eliminate mercury thermometers, which its says “contributes to mercury pollution.” But apparently only a consumer warning about mercury is all that is needed for compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Calvert proudly states that it puts its companies through a “thorough assessment of environmental, social and governance performance.” Among its initiatives are to pressure builders to add millions to construction costs to meet environmentalists’ made-up “Green” standards, and to force oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments (under the Dodd/Frank Wall Street Reform Bill) to foreign governments for the purpose of commercial development of their resources.

Other Leftist financial groups who utilize similar coercive tactics – with what they claim is approximately $202 billion in assets under their management, collectively – include Green Century Capital Management, Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, SEIU Master Trust, The Sustainability Group, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. They have no reservations in citing their financial might to divide and conquer businesses on environmental issues.

Casual observers believe that the Left accomplishes their goals via the three branches of government. They need to understand that their loss of liberties and choice, and the increased prices they pay for goods and services, are just as much the result of attacks on the private sector as they are the result of ham-fisted government regulations.

Paul Chesser is associate fellow for National Legal and Policy Center and is executive director for American Tradition Institute.