OIA joins coalition of major U.S. companies to push for climate, energy legislation

OIA has joined BICEP, a coalition of major American businesses, to push for a comprehensive climate and energy bill.
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Strengthening its support for a comprehensive climate and energy bill, the Outdoor Industry Association announced that it has joined Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a coalition of major American businesses pushing for climate and energy legislation.

As a member of BICEP (www.ceres.org), the outdoor industry will have a higher profile and stronger voice in lobbying efforts to push for a climate and energy bill, said Amy Roberts, OIA’s vice president of government affairs, during a conference call on June 3 that included not only OIA, but also businesses based in the Northwest calling for climate and energy legislation.

While OIA does its own lobbying work, Roberts said that membership in BICEP will allow outdoor brands to partner with prominent, like-minded companies and bring a business voice to the issue of climate change. “Many times in Washington it’s more effective to be part of a coalition that’s very focused and representative of a certain thought process,” she said.

(For more details on BICEP, click here to read a Nov. 16, 2009, SNEWS report.)

In an interview following the conference call, Roberts told SNEWS® that BICEP has a strong presence in Congress because it includes large companies such as Nike, Target and Best Buy. “They’re able to get meetings with congressional staff at a high level, or with members themselves,” said Roberts. “They also have a broad media strategy, using the power of the brands.”

Roberts told SNEWS that OIA began to focus more on climate-change legislation in 2010, and it was a major lobbying issue during this year’s Capitol Summit, held April 21 in Washington, D.C.

She said OIA looked at various organizations to join so it could more effectively lobby for climate-change legislation, and BICEP proved the best fit, partly because BICEP members include outdoor brands such as Clif Bar and Timberland, as well as other environmentally friendly businesses that OIA has worked with, including Levi Strauss & Co.

Roberts said BICEP would organize media and lobbying events throughout the year that will give outdoor company CEOs many opportunities beyond the Capitol Summit to meet with members of Congress.

“We bring a lot of horsepower to the Capitol Summit, but it’s a one-day event,” she said. “It’s really necessary to have constituents come in and talk to their members of Congress more than just in April. It needs to be a continual drumbeat throughout the year.”

During the conference call, Roberts described how climate change is affecting outdoor recreation negatively.

“Declining snowpacks are shortening ski and snowshoe seasons and are making Alpine climbing more dangerous,” she said. “Low snowpacks are also reducing water flows in our creeks, rivers and lakes…Higher temperatures and prolonged droughts are creating imbalances in forest, river and Alpine ecosystems that stress native species and nurture invasive species. In short, the healthy public lands that support this nation’s $730 billion outdoor recreation industry are imperiled by a warming climate.”

--Marcus Woolf

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