Businesses clash with U.S. chamber over climate change legislation

Some Minnesota businesses are opposing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce position on climate change legislation.

Four Minnesota companies say they're working with local chambers to encourage support for federal legislation.

Tom Gegax, a co-founder of Tires Plus Stores said at many local chambers, peer pressure discourages debate.

"If you speak out, and I've had many of my friends in the business community say, 'you're a traitor and why are you doing this,'" Gegax said. "And many others say 'keep it up.' So some are afraid to step out."

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said it doesn't take a position on federal legislation, and it wants climate change rules applied worldwide, so local businesses can remain competitive.

Some high-profile national companies, including Apple and General Electric, have quit the U.S. Chamber, saying its lobbying against climate change legislation doesn't match their views.

Mike Robertson, an environmental consultant for the Minnesota Chamber, said the state organization doesn't take a position on federal legislation.

"Our concern is that it be done in a way that businesses can remain competitive in the global marketplace, and not be required to have costs applied in our jurisdiction that are not required in other jurisdictions around the world, where our products become less competitive," Robertson said.

Several Minnesota companies, including the architectural firm Perkins and Will, and Duluth-based Conservation Technologies, say their businesses will benefit from global warming legislation.

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