Protesters decry Caterpillar's support of CO2 limitsPublished by MAC on 2007-06-13
Protesters decry Caterpillar's support of CO2 limits
13th June 2007
By Bob Tita
(Crain’s) — Dozens of business and public policy groups urged Caterpillar Inc. Wednesday to withdraw its support for proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions.
Opponents of the plan say U.S. industrial businesses — including some that are Caterpillar suppliers or customers - would face steep expenses that would make them less competitive. "For you to promote carbon caps it's going to increase costs," said Deneen Borelli, a representative of Project 21, conservative think tank for African-American owned businesses, during Cat's annual shareholders meeting in west suburban St. Charles.
Project 21 was one of 60 signers of a letter to Cat CEO James Ownens that chided the company for joining the United States Climate Control Partnership, a coalition of businesses and environmental groups supporting a so-called cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon dioxide emissions.
Companies whose emissions fall below their designated levels would be able to sell emissions credits to companies that did not meet the standards. Advertisement
Smoke-stack manufacturers, like steel companies, mining companies and chemical producers are expected to have the most difficulty complying with the limits, which aim to reduce carbon emissions, also known as greenhouse gas, by 23%.
Others signing on to the letter included former Attorney General Edwin Meese III and the Illinois Policy Institute.
Opponents of the plan predict U.S. coal production would drop by 43% because coal users would likely switch to cleaner-burning fuels rather than invest in emissions reduction systems.
Murray Energy Corp. an Ohio-based coal company, recently notified Cat that it would no longer purchase mining equipment from Cat in protest of Cat's support for cap-and-trade.
Mr. Owens said he was "disappointed that (Murray's) not going to buying our products anymore," but stressed that businesses can no longer simply refuse to go along with emissions reduction strategies.
He said the cap-and-trade system offers a degree of flexibility and cost controls that will help businesses remain competitive.
"We believe that some climate change legislation is likely," he said. "Clean air and less carbon dioxide in the air are going to cost money. We just want to get it done in the most economical way."
Mr. Owens also used the meeting to make pitch for free trade, warning that Cat and other U.S. companies would he harmed if the Democratic-controlled Congress approves restrictive legislation.
"There's a tremendous anti-trade sentiment and anti-global sentiment, which concerns us," he said. "The biggest risk to global prosperity is turning inward. You can't build a wall to the year 2050, you've got to build a bridge."
Middle East peace activists once again renewed their opposition to the continued use of Cat construction equipment by the Israeli military in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Mr. Owens reiterated Cat's position that it has no control over how its equipment is used, explaining that the U.S. military purchases Cat equipment and distributes it to governments throughout the Middle East as part of an ongoing aid program.
"It's for construction purposes," he said. "We don't do anything to militarize it."
The meeting ended abruptly when peace activists in the audience stood up in unison and began chanting: "take responsibility and do the right thing" as they displayed Palestinian flags.