NuScale CEO mum on U.S. Chamber board-policy disconnect

One week after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce anointed NuScale Power CEO John Hopkins chair of the board, a story was published in the New York Times stating that the chambers’ 108 board members were not in sync with the organization’s policy positions.

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The article revolved around a recent report authored by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and echoed previous reporting by the Times that revealed the chamber’s international campaign against antismoking laws and its efforts to undermine policies aimed at curbing global warming.

“Approximately half of the companies on the chamber’s board of directors have adopted anti-tobacco and pro-climate positions that contrast sharply with the chamber’s activities,” the report said. “Not a single board member explicitly supported the chamber’s lobbying efforts.”

It’s unclear where NuScale and Hopkins fit into this analysis. The Corvallis-based company is developing a small-scale nuclear reactor aimed at providing electricity for a variety of applications. The U.S. Chamber actively promotes nuclear power generation — but the organization also continues to promote its critique of climate change regulations and skepticism toward solar and wind energy growth.

The Times reported last year on the chamber’s efforts to dismantle President Obama’s clean power/climate change regulations. According to the article, the chamber convened regular meetings of corporate lawyers, coal lobbyists and Republican political strategists more than a year before the regulations were introduced.

NuScale’s website emphasizes the importance of taking action to reduce global warming impacts.

In June 2015, Hopkins participated in the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit at the White House “responding to the President’s call to action to expand private sector investment in solutions to climate change,” the company’s website states.

A couple of weeks ago, the Nuclear Energy Institute asked Hopkins to describe his top concern about government regulation.john hopkins

Hopkins responded by saying, unsurprisingly, that he would like to reframe renewable portfolio standards as clean energy standards. “This would allow the market to determine which source of energy production best suits the needs of the circumstances and would place nuclear energy on equal footing with other sources of clean energy,” he said.

NuScale communications director James Mellot declined to make Hopkins available for an interview regarding the alleged disconnect between the U.S. Chamber board and policy positions.

“We’re in the process of checking with the Chamber to make sure this would be ok for John to do,” he said via email. 

Apparently, it wasn’t. Instead, Blair Holmes, the U.S. Chamber’s executive director of media relations, provided the following email comment:

“As we’ve told the New York Times on repeated occasions, we disagree vehemently. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, on a broad array of issues critical to job creation and economic growth. As Danny Hakim himself wrote last summer, “Mr. Donohue has transformed the chamber into a powerful lobbying force,” but it is his tireless advocacy for all American businesses that has made that happen. 

The Chamber’s Board is extremely supportive of the Chamber’s advocacy on behalf of its members for critical business issues.”

As we reported earlier, three of the U.S. Chamber’s board members are from Oregon, and John Hopkins is the second Portland CEO in two years to chair the board. Schnitzer Steel CEO Tamara Lundgren was board chair in 2014. Elena Yalow of Kindercare is also a board member.