Caterpillar CEO Commits to Pro-Cap-and-Trade Lobbying Course While Admitting Risk to USA and His Own Corporation; Says Stockholders Who Object Can Just Sell Their Stock

Washington, DC – Caterpillar CEO James Owens admitted Wednesday at his company’s annual stockholder meeting that the carbon caps his company supports could hurt the U.S., U.S. heavy industry and Caterpillar itself.

Owens made the admission in response to questioning by Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund.

Owens told Borelli and stockholders that the U.S. and Caterpillar will be harmed if carbon caps are adopted by the U.S. but not adopted by the rest of the world.

The key industrial nations of China and India are extremely unlikely to adopt carbon caps.

Borelli also asked Owens how Owens would be held accountable if Caterpillar’s lobbying led to “a regulatory avalanche leaving the U.S. in an uncompetitive situation.” Owens responded by telling Borelli to just sell his stock.

“Caterpillar CEO Owens’ flippant remark that stockholders can just sell their stock if Caterpillar’s lobbying efforts harm the company leaves me wondering: Does Owens expect us to sell our stock in America, too? Because by lobbying for legislation that would harm individual Americans and American competitiveness, it sure seems like that’s what Mr. Owens and his board of directors have done,” said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Mr. Owens freely admits the legislation his firm backs will hurt the country and his company unless it also is adopted by major nations worldwide, but everyone knows the powerhouses China and India have no interest in doing so.”

Owens also said Caterpillar did not support the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May. When pressed by Borelli, Owens declined to say Caterpillar would lobby against Waxman-Markey if it went to the floor, but Owens also declined to deny the company would lobby for it.

Owens also said the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), an environmentalist-big business coalition to which Caterpillar belongs, did not support Waxman-Markey, but USCAP urged members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to vote in favor of the legislation’s passage when the bill was considered in the committee last month.

The National Center for Public Policy Research has long encouraged Caterpillar and other corporations to cease efforts to impose carbon regulations that would increase energy costs for the public and cut employment with negligible, if any, benefits to the climate. Among other activities, in 2007 The National Center spearheaded a coalition letter to Caterpillar signed by over 70 public policy organizations and affected companies urging the company to oppose unnecessary emissions caps. The letter is available online at

For more information, read “A Call for Transparency in Lobbying: Caterpillar Management Challenged on Support for Climate Legislation at Stockholder Meeting,” a National Center press release released June 10, 2009 available online at

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.