A Call for Transparency in Lobbying: Caterpillar Management Challenged on Support for Climate Legislation at Stockholder Meeting

Washington, DC – Tom Borelli, director of the Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research, is confronting Caterpillar Inc. management at the corporation’s shareholder’s meeting in Chicago Wednesday, asking the corporation to increase the transparency of its lobbying activities.

Borelli is zeroing in Caterpillar’s lobbying for cap-and-trade, which, Borelli says, would “increase the cost of coal, natural gas and gasoline — sources that supply 85% of our energy needs — in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  Economic studies on cap-and-trade have consistently found these regulations would lead to higher energy prices, slower economic growth and an increase in job losses.”

Borelli is attending the Caterpillar stockholder meeting in his capacity as portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, a mutual fund that uses investment and advocacy to promote the free enterprise system. 

The Fund has proposed shareholder “Proposal 9,” which, if adopted by the shareholders, would require Caterpillar management to, “at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, report… on the Company’s process for identifying and prioritizing legislative and regulatory public policy advocacy activities.”

Caterpillar management opposes the proposal, saying it objects to the release of confidential company information to competitors, although the proposal specifically excludes a requirement that confidential information be released.

In its objection, Caterpillar also claims it lobbies for cap-and-trade “in part, to ensure that any climate change legislation passed by Congress does not unfairly impact [Caterpillar] or its customers.”

“This is disingenuous,” said National Center for Public Policy Research President Amy Ridenour.  “Caterpillar is doing far more than jockeying to make sure Caterpillar doesn’t get hurt more than other American companies if climate change legislation passes.  Caterpillar is actively working to make certain it passes.  Without the legislation for which Caterpillar is lobbying, we wouldn’t be talking about anyone — including Caterpillar — being hurt.”

“There’s no question that Caterpillar CEO James Owens understands his company is lobbying to increase prices on American families,” added Ridenour.  “In May, Owens, speaking in front of President Obama in the dual capacity as Caterpillar CEO and as a member of Obama’s President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, expressed concern that energy price increases of $100-$1,000 per person per year — not just the rich, every American — expected to result from Congressional cap-and-trade proposals would be insufficiently high.  Specifically, Owens said, ‘…if there’s going to be a meaningful change in consumer behavior, [$100 to $1,000] seems like a pretty small range of numbers…’  So no one from Caterpillar can pretend the company isn’t lobbying Congress to intentionally raise energy prices — during a recession, no less.”

The Heritage Foundation has concluded that the adoption of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade proposal would, by 2035, raise direct energy costs for the typical American family of four by $1,500, kill 844,000 in an average year, and raise the national debt by 29 percent.

The full texts of Proposal 9 and Caterpillar management’s response to it can be found online at http://tw6.us/Mw (PDF), on pages 28-29. This information is provided for informational purposes; the Free Enterprise Action Fund has no connection to the National Center for Public Policy Research.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a free-market communications and research foundation established in 1982 and located on Capitol Hill. It receives support from over 80,000 individual contributors. Under 2 percent of its revenue is received from corporations.

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.