Southern Company CEO Pushes Coal and Nuclear in Address to US Chamber

You don’t need to be an expert sleuth to figure out whose interests the US Chamber of Commerce is representing in Washington.

Today, the Chamber made it abundantly clear that it is on the side of Big Polluters — not clean energy entrepreneurs — by inviting Southern Company’s CEO Tom Fanning to address their “CEO Leadership Series” Luncheon on energy issues.

Southern Company is notorious for its full-throated support for coal and nuclear power, as well as its opposition to action on climate change.

Yesterday’s speech was no different. In his remarks yesterday, Fanning spent about 10 seconds paying lip service to the need for renewables and energy efficiency, before launching into a multi-paragraph diatribe promoting nuclear power, describing his commitment to “21st Century Coal,” and criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to protect our clean air and environment.

Fanning’s rhetorical strategy of saying we need an “all of the above” energy approach and then only really pushing coal and nuclear is typical of corporate polluters, who realize they can’t quite publicly oppose clean energy. Just take a look at his closing remarks:

So, in closing, where does that leave us? First, we need all the arrows in the quiver. We need new nuclear. We must preserve coal as a resource for our energy future. We need natural gas, but it’s not a panacea. We need renewables, but let’s recognize their limitations.

Notice how nuclear and coal come first, with no qualifications, and then natural gas and renewables are listed, but immediately undercut?

As long as big polluters like Southern Company set the policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, it will continue to misrepresent the voice of the vast majority of American businesses who support clean energy and climate action. In honor of Fanning’s speech at the US Chamber, we’ll be doubling our efforts to recruit new businesses across the South to join the “US Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me”! We hope you’ll join us.