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Business Blitz Seeks Fast Passage of Senate Climate Bill

Executives from the Dow Chemical Co., Energy Corp., Nike Inc. and more than 140 other companies and venture capital firms will convene in Washington this week to lobby Senate lawmakers to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill quickly.
by Michael BurnhamThe New York Times Posted on Oct 04, 2009

Executives from the Dow Chemical Co., Entergy Corp., Nike Inc. and more than 140 other companies and venture capital firms will convene in Washington this week to lobby Senate lawmakers to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill quickly.

"This is a powerful message that U.S. businesses are united on the urgency for tackling climate change," contended Timberland Co. President and CEO Jeff Swartz, whose company helped organize the lobbying blitz with the help of the investor coalition Ceres.

Swartz and other business leaders plan to have lunch tomorrow with the Senate's "Gang of 16," which includes Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and other industrial-state lawmakers whose support is seen as crucial to passing the greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bill (pdf) introduced last week by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

The House passed companion Greenwire, Oct. 2).

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is slated to speak tomorrow at a dinner with the business executives. The executives will meet Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Wednesday morning.

The executives are also slated to meet with lawmakers and staff members in 35 Senate offices, as well as with White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Director Carol Browner, according to officials familiar with the meetings.

"Time is of the essence," said Peyton Fleming, a Ceres spokesman.

Twenty-six of the companies, including Constellation Energy Group Inc., Exelon Corp. and Starbucks Corp., underscored their support for congressional action on climate and energy legislation in an open letter to Obama and Senate lawmakers recently.

"Putting a price on carbon will drive investment into cost-saving, energy-saving technologies and will create the next wave of jobs in the new energy economy," the letter noted. "For the United States to compete and lead, you must act."

Exelon, which operates the nation's largest fleet of nuclear power plants, is helping to coordinate a separate advertising blitz. The campaign, which includes the support of more than two dozen utilities, unions and environmental groups, will begin with a print ad in major national newspapers this week, according to an official knowledgeable of the campaign.

The print ad will call on the Senate to pass climate and energy legislation this year -- which the groups contend would help create 1.7 million jobs.

Read the post at The New York Times

Meet the Expert

Mindy S. Lubber JD, MBA

Mindy S. Lubber is the president of Ceres and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of 100 institutional investors managing nearly $10 trillion in assets focused on the business risks and opportunities of climate change. Mindy regularly speaks about corporate and investor sustainability issues to high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, American Bar Association and more than 100 Fortune 500 firms. She has led negotiating teams of investors, NGOs and Fortune 500 company CEOs who have taken far-reaching positions on corporate practices to minimize carbon emissions, water use and other environmental impacts. She has briefed powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on how climate change affects shareholder value.

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