FAIRFIELD, Conn. (
CEO Jeff Immelt says U.S. public policy is "kind of a mess," when it comes to clean energy.
Immelt made the comments Monday night during a webcast discussion hosted by
Bank of America
's Merrill Lynch Wealth Management division. The discussion also featured a top economist and equity strategist at the bank, as well as the president of the unit, Sallie Krawcheck, who is seen as a longshot candidate to replace outgoing bank CEO Ken Lewis.
While all GE's talk of "Ecomagination" is a bit much, it appears GE is taking a stance on energy policy that does not fit the old big business stereotype, and that stance is earning it certain enemies on the right. Though Immelt is a Republican, at least one blogger is
as part of a conspiracy to "undermine domestic oil drilling."
GE has been an outspoken proponent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and was a co-founder of United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a business alliance that aims to "slow, stop and reverse the growth of U.S. emissions while expanding the U.S. economy." USCAP's membership has grown from 13 to 31 members since its founding in 2007, according to website
, which points to a growing
divide among U.S. businesses
on energy policy highlighted by
's decision to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month because of differences about environmental policy.
contrasts the growing membership of USCAP, which includes
Ford Motor Co.
Royal Dutch Shell
, with the defections of Apple and other companies from the Chamber of Commerce, which has also seen reduced levels of participation from some of its members.
With so many big businesses on board, then, what's the holdup to legislation? Politicians who represent rural America,
Still, if Jeff Immelt and Al Gore are on the same team, you've got to like that team's chances.
Written by Dan Freed in New York