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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Caterpillar Hurting Poor, Coalition Says

In a project spearheaded by the National Center for Public Policy Research on the eve of the Caterpillar corporation's stockholders meeting, 70+ groups and companies have sent a letter to Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from the United States Climate Action Partnership.

USCAP is a coalition of environmental groups and major corporations seeking to impose a cap-and-trade system on carbon dioxide emissions.

The letter says capping carbon emissions would harm two groups disproportionately: The poor and Caterpillar stockholders.

Among the signers of the letter are former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, III and former U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY).

The letter is also signed by representatives of the mining, ranching, forestry, construction and agricultural industries - industries upon which Caterpillar depends for sales. Among them are Murray Energy Corporation, Jicarilla Mining District, Griffith Lumber Company, Korman Ranch, Jerrell's Excavating, Red River Coal Company and Ontario Hardwood Company.

Bob Murray, founder and president of Murray Energy Corporation, in his own letter to Caterpillar earlier this year, chided the company for allying with environmental groups that "have been attempting to terminate the use of coal for decades."

Murray's firm has stopped doing business with Caterpillar as a result: “Caterpillar has joined with some of the most radical environmentalists who have been enemies of mining, including coal, for decades… As a result of this, I sent [Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens] a letter a couple of months ago telling him that Murray Energy Corporation will no longer do business with Caterpillar. This will result in the loss of millions of dollars in business to Caterpillar.”

In addition to The National Center for Public Policy Research, think tanks and policy organizations that have signed the letter include: the American Conservative Union, the Congress of Racial Equality, FreedomWorks, Coalitions for America, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the National Legal and Policy Center, Frontiers of Freedom, Illinois Policy Institute, 60 Plus, the Rio Grande Foundation, the National Tax Limitation Committee, the Capital Research Center, the Ethan Allan Institute, the Property Rights Foundation of America, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty, the Maryland Taxpayers Association, Tradition Family Property Inc., the Grassroot Institute of Hawai, the John Locke Foundation, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Iowa Wednesday Group, the American Property Coalition, the American Land Rights Association, the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, Taxpayers for Accountable Government, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the Thomas More Institute, the American Policy Center, RenewAmerica, the United Republican Fund and others.

The letter cites a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in April that found that the oil, gas and coal industries would be particularly harmed by cap-and-trade legislation.

"A cap designed to reduce emissions by 23 percent would result in a 54 percent devaluation of coal stock value and a 40 percent decline in coal production," notes the letter, quoting from the CBO report.

The CBO report also found that the poor would be disproportionately harmed by a cap and trade system, indicating that a cap designed to reduce emissions by just 15% 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.

"Regardless of how the allowances [for carbon dioxide emissions] were distributed," the CBO report states, "most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline."

Husband David, our VP, says: "Caps on carbon emissions will force energy companies to cut production, ultimately hurting Caterpillar's bottom line. They will also result in higher energy prices, hurting the poor. I'm tempted to say that Caterpillar has something against the poor, but it must actually love them. Why else would Caterpillar be seeking to increase the poors' ranks by adding its own employees and stockholders? 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? This is one of the questions stockholders should ask him when they meet tomorrow."

For a copy of the letter, go to: www.nationalcenter.org/caterpillar_climate.pdf.

To read what others are saying about Caterpillar's participation in USCAP, including representatives from the mining, forestry and construction industries, as well as from policy groups, go to: www.nationalcenter.org/Caterpillar_Commentary.pdf.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:12 PM

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