17 Feb 2010 President Obama’s Cap-and-Trade Policy Takes Another Hit: BP, Caterpillar and ConocoPhillips Exit USCAP Global Warming Lobbying Group
Washington, DC – President Obama’s cap-and-trade policy took another hit with the announcement that oil companies BP and ConocoPhillips and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar are leaving the high-profile United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) lobbying organization.
USCAP played a key role in lobbying for the Obama-supported Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill approved by the House of Representatives last year.
“The companies that bolted USCAP realized the organization was really a front group serving only the interests of GE and utility companies and their environmental allies. This became obvious when the Waxman-Markey bill gave the vast majority of free carbon allowances to the utility industry while GE reaped the reward of its lobbying muscle by securing federal mandates for electricity generation in a way that benefits GE’s wind turbine business,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project.
“With the Waxman bill, environmental special interest groups and GE achieved their renewable energy dreams and the utilities took the free carbon allowances, leaving their coalition partners in the oil and heavy industry companies out in the cold,” added Borelli.
For years, policy experts at the National Center have been harsh critics of USCAP, saying its lobbying goals are bad for the U.S. economy, low-income Americans, employment and the stockholders of affected companies, including those of several USCAP members.
On the eve of Caterpillar’s 2007 stockholder meeting, for example, The National Center organized a letter to Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens signed by 70 organizations, companies and prominent individuals, including a former U.S. Attorney General, urging Owens to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from USCAP. National Center for Public Policy Research Vice President David Ridenour noted when the letter was released that the cap for which USCAP was lobbying 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.”
Ridenour also noted that Caterpillar itself would have been adversely affected: “Capping U.S. emissions will accomplish little while hurting the poor and many of the industries upon which Caterpillar has depended for sales. 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?”
Borelli concurs. “When I challenged Caterpillar’s participation in USCAP at the 2007 Caterpillar stockholder meeting, I was outraged to learn that CEO Jim Owens did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis to estimate the impact of cap-and-trade on his business. By adopting the progressive line of ‘having a seat at the table’ in shaping legislation to justify USCAP membership, Owens embodied the proverbial ‘useful idiot’ in supporting the left-wing’s energy agenda,” said Borelli.
At the 2009 Caterpillar shareholder meeting, Owens acknowledged he opposed the Waxman-Markey bill because it could harm his business. This put Owens at odds with coalition partner Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric.
GE secured hundreds of millions of dollars from President Obama’s $787 billion “American Reinvestment and Recovery Act” for its utility customers Duke Energy, Exleon and FPL Group – all USCAP members.
“USCAP has always been about GE, the utility industry, and environmental advocacy groups advancing their narrow cause at the cost of the other coalition ‘partners’ and taxpayers. It’s only a matter of time until the other USCAP members, such as John Deere & Co., wake up and recognize that cap-and-trade legislation is toxic to shareholder interests,” said Borelli.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, free-market think-tank established in 1982 and funded primarily by the gifts of over 100,000 recent individual contributors. Less than one percent of funding is received from corporations.