Business trade groups are known for throwing their weight around — and getting their way — in Washington. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the American Petroleum Institute — these names strike fear in the hearts of members of Congress. They have enormous, well-funded lobbying arms and links to dark-money groups that can mobilize against any politician who crosses them.
But the ground is shifting beneath the feet of the Chamber of Commerce and its cohort. More and more corporations are cleaning up their energy use and supply chains and lining up behind climate action. In 2009, Apple left the Chamber of Commerce over its position on climate change, along with Nike and several other high-profile companies. Since then, at least 13 more large companies have followed them out the door.
At the moment it seems the big trade groups are coming out of alignment with their own members on climate change. And a group of Democratic senators, spearheaded by Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, wants to highlight that growing tension, making sure that every member of these trade groups knows the effect they are having on federal climate politics. Have a look here to see how Whitehouse, along with two Democratic colleagues in the Senate, New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich and Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, are working together to pile the political pressure on intimidating trade groups.