It’s hard to listen to someone complain about getting dumped. “Why won’t she come back? Doesn’t she know I can change? Just give me one more chance!” Lots of difficult questions with painful answers you’d really rather not get into.

Which is why it was really hard to sit at the US Chamber of Commerce’s energy “dialogue” Wednesday morning in Washington, listening to polluters bemoan America’s momentum towards climate action amid the Chamber’s public split on the issue. Johnson & Johson, Nike and other members delivered a stinging rebuke on the Chamber’s climate obstruction last week. Then on the day of the Chamber meeting, MoveOn delivered a petition (PDF) from 10,000 small business leaders asking the Chamber to stop lobbying against clean energy and green jobs.

The first signs of a fractured relationship came back in November. Americans elected this energetic, handsome go-getter named Barack Obama, who couldn’t stop talking about change. That Wednesday’s meeting was held two blocks from the White House made the wounds seem all that more fresh.

As soon as President Obama took office, the Chamber’s worst fears were realized. All those references to change and hope weren’t just talk – President Obama was serious that things were going to be different from now on. And 58 percent of Americans agreed with Obama’s energy plans, which stand in stark contrast to the Chamber’s. Really rubbed salt in that wound.

A. Bray Cary Jr., a board member of natural gas giant EQT, said what the Chamber was thinking: Why couldn’t this new Obama guy be more like Bush? “The fact of the matter seems to me, when we change administrations, the nation’s energy plan should not change,” said Cary. Just because we have a new president doesn’t mean we should go changing around our national energy policies! Why can’t things like they used to be back when polluters wrote the energy policy?

The more you listened to the Chamber’s speakers, the more you realized they weren’t really sorry, and they didn’t really want to change — it’s Americans who need to change! And then the truth started spilling out. The Chamber never really bought into all this global warming stuff in the first place! “There’s a scientific debate about where … where man’s role in the environment is,” Cary insisted.

To see why Johnson & Johnson, Nike and the small business leaders are so upset, just look at the Chamber affiliate’s plan to deal with our energy crisis. “Expanding the use of [clean energy] technologies would not require a mandate, but could be achieved through government incentives to the private sector.” Translation — tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for polluting utilities with no requirements for actual progress. How does that benefit anyone but the polluters? Why would the Chamber align with the polluters over its other members?

We need comprehensive clean energy & climate legislation that repowers America’s economy with millions of clean energy jobs, breaks our dependence on oil and reduces the carbon pollution that causes global warming. The Chamber needs to lead or step aside

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