The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the economic empowerment of African American communities.” The NBCC was founded by Harry Alford, who serves as the organization’s president and CEO; he is also a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. According to IRS form 990s, NBCC’s only officers are Alford and his wife, Kay DeBow Alford.
Alford is a longtime ally to utility and fossil fuel companies. Since 1998, the NBCC has received $800,000 from Exxon Mobil, according to ExxonSecrets. With the beginning of Exxon funding, NBCC opposed the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Alford testified in 1998 saying the climate treaty would be detrimental to minority-owned small businesses. NBCC membership at the time included General Motors, Texaco, Caterpillar, and Daimler Chrysler.
In 2011, the NBCC also started to receive money from the Edison Electric Institute. Alford recently testified in Congress pushing back on the EPA’s updating of ground-level ozone rules (emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from cars and power plants make up smog when they are “cooked” by the sun). Alford has also criticized EPA’s Clean Power Plan saying, “The EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation is a slap in the face to poor and minority families.” Alford’s comments were then repeated by the climate-denying Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Heartland. The NAACP, however, fully backs the EPA regulations. When the standards were released in 2014, Lorraine Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO, said, “African Americans overwhelming live in areas where millions of tons of carbon pollution are trapping, concentrating, and intensifying the myriad of toxins they breath every day… I commend President Obama for taking such a bold step for environmental justice in protecting our most vulnerable communities.”
NBCC’s website states that if a member contributes at least $35,000 that member becomes part of the organization’s “Public Policy Council” where it will be able to work with NBCC to “formulate positions on issues of commonality such as Energy, Environmental Protection, Taxation, Broadband Deployment, Free and Fair Trade, Economic Development in Underserved Communities, Procurement Opportunities, Capital Access, etc.” In 2010, the cost to formate NBCC’s policy positions was $30,000, and that year NBCC advertised that the money will help “formulate positions on issues of commonality such as Global Warming Treaty, Tax Reform, Social Security, Tort Reform, National Air Ambient Quality, OSHA laws, procurement, telecommunications, diversity and regulatory affairs.”
Dr. Michael Dorsey, Interim Director for the Energy and Environment Program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told ThinkProgress that Alford is, “just mouthing off talking points from Edison Electric. It’s disturbing that he would subject himself to being so manipulated.”
The NBCC has also come out against net metering in recent months. In 2014, NBCC signed onto a U.S. Chamber of Commerce coalition letter calling for net metering reform. In March, the NBCC came out against net metering in Louisiana and praised a flawed opinion piece from the Harvard Electricity Policy Group. Weeks later, NBCC filed an initial brief opposing the Florida solar ballot initiative, joining the four utility companies in that state in opposition.