Today the Wall Street Journal editorial board published a typically dismissive editorial defending the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from the companies that have quit or criticized it over its position on climate change.
The Chamber, to recap, opposes the clean energy bill in Congress and recently called for a “Scopes Monkey Trial” questioning the scientific reality of climate change. The 97-year-old business lobby has faced a wave of defections, from large utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Exelon and well-known members such as Nike (which quit the Chamber’s board but retained its membership) and Apple.
The WSJ editorial board waved its hand at the moves: “Apple and Nike are putting green political correctness above the long-term interests of their own shareholders.”
It also buys wholesale the Chamber’s claim that it really wants to help on climate change, it just doesn’t happen to approve of the bill currently in Congress, or last year’s Lieberman-Warner climate bill, or the plan the Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing.
Bizarrely, the WSJ editorial board also attacks Al Gore for promoting clean energy while investing his own money in renewable energy technologies, as if it were hypocritical to invest in a cause one believes in. It complains that cleantech could make Gore “richer than he already is,” as if his wealth discredits him.
No big news here—the editorial board has long made it clear it doesn’t believe in climate change and opposes any energy plan that attempts to address it. But I learned about the most recent editorial from a takedown by the WSJ’s own Keith Johnson, the lead reporter at the paper’s Energy Capital blog.
it’s hard to see how Apple and Nike’s embrace of climate legislation will necessarily hurt their shareholders.
Confusingly, explicitly looking out for shareholder interests doesn’t always win the WSJ edit page endorsement.
The three utilities who left the Chamber before Nike and Apple — PG&E, PNM, and Exelon — stand to reap economic benefits from any climate-change legislation due to their investments in renewable energy and nuclear power. That’s just “political rent-seeking,” complained the edit page recently.
Johnson (understandably) declined my request to talk about his criticism and the internal politics involved in posting it. Like the Washington Post, the WSJ puts out some solid journalism on climate and energy issues, combined with utterly misleading pieces from its opinion page. As with the Post reporters who called out Post columnist George Will for lying about climate science last spring, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Journal editorialists find themselves challenged by their own news staff.
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