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UPDATED: Environmental group dupes media about U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Posted: October 20, 2009 11:46 a.m.
Updated: October 23, 2009 11:37 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Several news agencies - including Reuters, CNBC and the New York Times - were duped by a group known as The Yes Men Tuesday, as the group staged a fake U.S. Chamber of Commerce press conference backing the new "cap-and-trade" climate legislation.

The environmental group, notorious for pulling politically-minded pranks, posed as Chamber spokesmen during the conference, and even sent out an almost fool-proof press release across many news wires.

The group wanted to tweak the Chamber's stance on climate change, which currently does not support the "cap-and-trade" energy bill passed by the House in July.

The Yes Men booked space at the National Press Club on Monday as the U.S. Council on Climate, the exact same initials as the Chamber.

The tip-off finally came as a lost reporter contacted the actual Chamber about the location of the press conference. Soon thereafter, a spokesman for the Chamber interrupted the conference, which was being held live on various cable news channels throughout Tuesday afternoon.

Here is the text of the original "press release" in its entirety:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is throwing its weight behind strong climate legislation, a spokesman for Chamber President Tom J. Donahue announced at the National Press Club.

"We believe that strong climate legislation is the best way to ensure American innovation, create jobs, and make sure the U.S. and the world are on track to reduce global carbon emissions, and to provide for the needs of the American business community for generations to come," spokesman Hingo Sembra said.

The new position is an about-face on climate policy for the Chamber, which previously lobbied against government action. The shift comes after the defection of several prominent members of the Chamber, including PG&E, Apple, PNM Resources, and Exelon.

"We believe the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is a good start towards strong legislation," Sembra noted, adding that such legislation "should include a stiff carbon tax and correspondingly strong incentives for industries we wish to foster."

"A carbon tax means less need for legislating by Congress, a surer business environment for companies, and a simpler, competition-friendly mechanism for reducing carbon than the bill's current cap-and-trade approach," Sembra said.

The Chamber announced an immediate moratorium on lobbying and publicity work opposing climate legislation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 300,000 businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.



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