Here’s the letter that just went out to our USA list. Not getting our emails? Sign up here.

Dear Friends,

People have been asking me: of all the potential targets on the planet, why is taking on the US Chamber of Commerce?

Simply put, the US Chamber is one of the biggest barriers to climate progress in the entire world.

In the last year for which statistics are available, the US Chamber spent five times as much money lobbying as the next highest spender — Exxon Mobil. They spent more money on political campaigning than the Republican and Democratic national committees. And they used all that corporate cash to make sure that the planet kept warming, opposing almost every measure that might have made even a small difference. Not to worry, they told the EPA: when the earth warmed, humans could “adapt their physiologies.”

That’s why we’re taking them on. And if you think that they’re too powerful to hurt, you’re both right and wrong. We can’t take away their money — the Supreme Court has seen to that with the Citizens United decision — but we can neutralize their other major source of power, the claim that they “represent American business.” They don’t: most American businesses aren’t like the handful of giant corporations that provide most of the Chamber’s funds. We should be clear: the US Chamber isn’t a government agency, it’s a privately controlled front group for big corporations.

We’ve got amazing momentum for the campaign already: from Arroyo Veterinary Hospital to Zero Gravity Marketing, over 1,000 businesses have already said they don’t need the Chamber claiming to represent them on energy and climate. But the Chamber claims it has 300,000 members. So we have 299,000 to go to catch up. We can do it — you could easily sign up ten businesses yourself in the next week.

If just 500 people commit to getting 10 businesses on board this week, we’ll blow past the 5,000 business mark in the next few days. Click here to join in.

When you’re shopping, going to the gym, renewing your insurance, or getting your hair cut: ask to speak to the owner. Go over the simple talking points we’ve written up, and get them to sign the pledge — and if you’re handy with the camera on your phone, get them to make a short video. (The best ones show the boss at work as she talks — the barber with scissors in hand, for example). Hell, you probably have ten friends who run small businesses of their own.

I know that this doesn’t sound dramatic. Compared to the remarkable bravery folks are showing in Egypt and Libya (or the leadership closer to home of our friends Tim DeChristopher and Wendell Berry) this is easy — you just need guts enough to talk to the guy behind the counter.

There will be more chances for dramatic action as the year goes on—here’s our latest thinking on the growing opportunities for civil disobedience, for example.  But you don’t need to go to jail to make a difference — sometimes small actions truly do add up.

If you’re sick of the power of big money in our lives, then now’s the moment to do your part.

Again, all you need to know to sign up businesses is right here. It’s really easy and it’s also really important.


Bill McKibben for

P.S. How do we know we’re getting nearer to the real centers of power? Because they’re fighting back. Read the story of, the Red Sox, and how Glenn Beck accused me of being a communist right here.

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