Obama Climate Plan Divides Business

Dec 2, 2014 3:45 PM ET

This article originally published on Financial Times

Barney Jopson in Washington and Ed Crooks in New York

The Obama administration’s environmental policy is deepening divisions between big businesses on climate change, mirroring polarisation among US states over an issue that will drive more legal and political conflict next year.

A controversial White House plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power stations has exposed a growing rift between consumer businesses that support the proposal and industrial groups that are vehemently opposed to it.

President Barack Obama is seeking to make action on climate change a central part of his legacy, but the plan from his environmental regulator is already threatened by lawsuits and Republican opponents in Congress.

The corporate divide emerged from 1.6m-plus comments sent to the Environmental Protection Agency by a deadline of midnight on Monday, reflecting arguments that will rage as the agency seeks to finalise its plan by June 2015.

A group of more than 220 companies including well-known US names such as Kellogg, Levi-Strauss, Mars, Nike and Starbucks has signed a letter in support of Mr Obama’s plan, along with European groups including Adidas, Ikea, Nestlé and Unilever.

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