Sierra Club leader calls for climate integration
By Juliet Eilperin
As Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) continued courting business groups in closed-door meetings Thursday, the Sierra Club's new leader made a modest proposal: Why not let the greens join the party?
Michael Brune, who just took over as the Sierra Club's executive director, suggested in an interview that the climate troika ought to place environmental and business lobbyists in the same room.
"We don't begrudge the meetings with the Chamber," Brune said, referring to Thursday's meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies. "We need to at least create the opportunity for breakthroughs, by putting climate adversaries together."
Brune ran the Rainforest Action Network before taking up his current post. In his former job, he recalled, businesses such as Lowe's and Home Depot demanded his group meet face to face with timber and forest product companies to work out their differences.
Would the Sierra Club arrange for such a summit?
"I'm not sure we're the best broker," Brune said. "That dialogue is best brokered by folks on the Hill."
Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an e-mail he wouldn't rule out such a meeting.
"We are always willing to discuss issues with anyone seriously interested in accomplishing workable, sensible legislation," Josten wrote.
In the meantime, the three senators are pursuing a separate-but-equal strategy. In addition to the Chamber meeting, they met with executives from Conoco, Shell and BP Thursday morning.
It's unclear whether the troika is making any headway, judging from Josten's post-meeting comment: "Today, representatives from the Chamber and other industry groups had another informative meeting with Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman on energy and climate legislation. There is still a lot of ground to cover to translate ideas into legislation. Once a bill is presented to us, we will carefully evaluate it."
Juliet Eilperin| March 25, 2010; 7:01 PM ET Save & Share:
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