A recent Los Angeles Times headline could easily appear in the News of the Weird: “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Seeks Trial on Global Warming.” Absurd? Yes. A business-environment intersection we’d rather not see? Yes. True? Yes: in hopes of preventing potentially sweeping limits on emissions, the Chamber is pushing the EPA to try the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.
According to the LA Times report, the public trial, which Chamber officials reportedly described as “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century,” would include cross-examinations, witnesses, and a judge. The Chamber’s goal would be simple: to disprove that humans are warming the planet to a dangerous level, thereby undercutting the current scientific consensus on the matter. The Chamber has threatened to file a lawsuit against the EPA if it declines the trial.
The EPA has called the threatened lawsuit “frivolous” and the hearing a “waste of time,” as the soundest peer-reviewed science available overwhelmingly indicates that climate change is indeed a threat to human welfare. Some analysts believe the Chamber’s trial attempt is merely an effort to sow political discord, since it stands on a shaky foot at best (in terms of scientific support for its claims).
Since the Chamber represents some 3 million businesses, one of the many questions the trial begs is, in what boat would the trial put (conservative) Chamber members who support clean energy legislation? (For example, John McCain, a conservative who realizes the overwhelming evidence for climate change, and businesses that belong to the chamber but still support the creation of a clean energy jobs bill.) If Politico’s July 13 analysis is correct, by failing to corral its own membership in opposition to energy legislation, the Chamber could be alienating itself from its own member businesses.