70-Plus Groups Confront Caterpillar on Eve of Shareholder Meeting

Washington, D.C. – On the eve of the Caterpillar Corporation’s stockholders meeting in Chicago, 70+ groups and companies have sent a letter to Caterpillar, Inc.  CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).  USCAP is a coalition of companies and environmental groups seeking to establish a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. 

The signatories to the letter note that capping carbon emissions, as advocated by USCAP, would harm two groups disproportionately: The poor and Caterpillar stockholders.

“Caps on carbon emissions will force energy companies to cut production, ultimately hurting Caterpillar’s bottom line.  They will also result in higher energy prices, hurting the poor, ” said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research, the organization that spearheaded the letter.  “I’m tempted to say that Caterpillar has something against the poor, but it must actually love them.  Why else would Caterpillar be seeking to increase the poors’ ranks by adding its own employees and stockholders?”

Among the signers of the letter are former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, III and former U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY).

The letter is also signed by representatives of the mining, ranching, forestry, construction and agricultural industries – industries upon which Caterpillar depends for sales.   Among them are Murray Energy Corporation, Jicarilla Mining District, Griffith Lumber Company, Korman Ranch, Jerrell’s Excavating, Red River Coal Company and Ontario Hardwood Company. 

Bob Murray, founder and president of Murray Energy Corporation, in his own letter to Caterpillar earlier this year, chided the company for allying with environmental groups that “have been attempting to terminate the use of coal for decades.”

In addition to The National Center for Public Policy Research, think tanks and policy organizations that have signed the letter include:  the American Conservative Union, FreedomWorks, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, Frontiers of Freedom, Illinois Policy Institute, 60 Plus (an association of seniors) and the National Tax Limitation Committee.

The letter cites a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in April that found that the oil, gas and coal industries would be particularly harmed by cap-and-trade legislation.

“A cap designed to reduce emissions by 23 percent would result in a 54 percent devaluation of coal stock value and a 40 percent decline in coal production,” notes the letter, quoting from the CBO report.

The CBO report also found that the poor would be disproportionately harmed by a cap and trade system, indicating that a cap designed to reduce emissions by just 15% would cost the poorest fifth of Americans nearly double what it would cost the wealthiest fifth of Americans, as a percentage of wages, in added energy costs.

“Regardless of how the allowances [for carbon dioxide emissions] were distributed,” the CBO report states, “most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline.”

“Capping U.S. emissions will accomplish little while hurting the poor and many of the industries upon which Caterpillar has depended for sales,” said Ridenour.  “When Caterpillar President James Owens has presided over the destruction of the oil, mining, timber and agricultural industries, what product will it have to sell then?  Emissions credits?  This is one of the questions stockholders should ask him when they meet tomorrow.”

For a copy of the letter, go to: www.nationalcenter.org/caterpillar_climate.pdf.

To read what others are saying about Caterpillar’s participation in USCAP, including representatives from the mining, forestry and construction industries, as well as from policy groups, go to: www.nationalcenter.org/Caterpillar_Commentary.pdf.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, D.C.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.