Walmart calls for "strong climate policy now," backs campaign to kill strong climate policy

In a new post on LinkedIn, Walmart's Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathleen McLaughlin, underscored the company's commitment to addressing climate change. But McLaughlin noted, correctly, that "even the most ambitious voluntary individual and collective actions are not sufficient" and "[b]old domestic climate policy action is needed now if we are to meet the demands of this generational moment."

McLaughlin went on to say that effective climate policies are included in the reconciliation package pending before Congress:

In the U.S., Walmart is encouraged by the many climate-related policy proposals being debated by Congress, including proposals made through budget reconciliation and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as additional ideas being surfaced in policy circles. We urge our national leaders to find ways to enact much-needed legislation to enable the U.S. to move forward on climate action now to avoid the worst effects of climate change in the future. 

...As the IPCC report affirms, global warming is not just a challenge we must address for tomorrow, but one whose effects are already being felt by many communities today. We need to act now and with urgency.

The centerpiece of the climate policy in the reconciliation bill is the Clean Energy Standard. The proposal would allocate about $150 billion to incentivize utilities to shift to cleaner sources of power. The goal of the Clean Energy Standard in the reconciliation package would be to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2035.

While McLaughlin is urging Congress to "act now and with urgency," her boss, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, is leading a multi-million dollar campaign to defeat the reconciliation package.

McMillon is the current chair of the Business Roundtable, a group of influential CEOs who are participating in a "massive lobbying blitz" to kill the reconciliation package and its Clean Energy Standard. In a press release this week which featured quotes from McMillon, the Business Roundtable said its efforts to defeat the reconciliation bill would include "direct CEO engagement to Capitol Hill and the Administration, as well as high-frequency radio print and digital ads in over 50 media markets across the country, generating calls and letters from constituents in target states."

Walmart is also part of another well-funded campaign to defeat the reconciliation bill by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Walmart did not respond to Popular Information's request for comment. 

GM endorses reconciliation bill; GM CEO takes over Business Roundtable

GM released a statement on Tuesday officially endorsing the reconciliation bill, also known as the "Build Back Better" plan. The company says that the bill presents a "once-in-a-generation opportunity for our nation."

General Motors applauds those who have worked tirelessly to advance the Build Back Better Plan, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, and urges Congress and the Administration to move forward legislation that will bring critical improvements to the country.  Build Back Better lays the foundation for sustainability policies that will help address climate change and improve environmental quality and resiliency.  GM supports those goals and, critically, we support those provisions that accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and establish the U.S. as a global leader in electrification today, and into the future.

On Wednesday, the Business Roundtable announced that GM CEO Mary Barra would be its incoming Chair in 2022.

Soon, Barra will lead a company that says the reconciliation bill is "critical" and a lobbying organization doing everything possible to defeat it. The media coverage of Barra's appointment ignored this contradiction.

Under increased scrutiny, Apple stays silent

Walmart's conduct is similar to Apple's contradictory approach. Apple's VP for Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, put out a statement supporting "the enactment of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would decarbonize the power sector by 2035." This is the exact policy in the reconciliation bill. Jackson called taking action on this issue "urgent." 

But, as Popular Information reported earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on the board of the Business Roundtable. So Apple is describing the climate provisions of the reconciliation bill as "urgent" while also participating in a campaign to kill the legislation.

Apple did not respond to our request for comment but Popular Information's reporting caught the attention of MSNBC's Chris Hayes. On his program Tuesday night, Hayes said Apple also ignored MSNBC's inquiry:

Today, journalist Judd Legum points out in this newsletter Popular Information that Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on the board of the Business Roundtable along with at least 12 other influential CEOs. The group is running ads on Facebook attacking the reconciliation bill's higher corporate tax rate.

We reached out to Apple for comment. They did not get back to us....

Manchin snaps at reporter who asked about his financial conflicts

The reconciliation bill does not need any Republican votes to become law. But it is opposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and a handful of other Democrats. On Wednesday, Manchin released a lengthy statement criticizing the bill seeks to "vengfully tax" in pursuit of "wishful spending." 

The statement did not get into specifics because the specifics are very popular.

Manchin did not mention it, but he reportedly also objects to the climate provisions in the bill, which would transition the energy sector away from fossil fuels by 2035. Manchin wants a policy that would give "a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry."

As Popular Information reported earlier this month, Manchin has a financial conflict. He continues to hold an ownership stake in two coal companies that would likely be put out of business if the country stopped generating power from coal. Manchin has recieved hundreds of thousands of dollars in dividends from these holdings since he became a Senator. 

Manchin was confronted on Wednesday by Bloomberg's Ari Natter about his financial interest in fossil fuels. It quickly got testy:

When Natter brought up that Manchin's son runs the companies, Manchin snapped back: "You'd do best to change the subject."

Earlier this year a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on camera bragging that he spoke with Manchin's office weekly. Manchin said these claims were exaggerated. Over the last week, ExxonMobil has spend $275,000 on Facebook ads opposing the reconciliation bill.