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Why engine maker Cummins is lobbying President Biden for new climate legislation

February 11, 2022, 11:11 AM UTC

Good morning.

I spoke yesterday with Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger, one of a growing number of CEOs who have moved to the vanguard of efforts to combat climate change. He went to the White House last month to argue that the portions of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act addressing climate be enacted into law.

For Cummins, which makes engines, it’s also a business imperative. The company is investing heavily in developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, even though Linebarger believes the marketplace for that technology is still a decade or so away from being competitive without subsidies or regulation.

“Hydrogen as a fuel has moved from a supercool idea to the development stage. We are running trains in Europe with hydrogen fuel cell engines,” he told me. “We would love to get the cost down, as would our customers. We don’t need invention, but we do need development and refinement. The cost is not viable without subsidy or regulation today.”

Linebarger says he has no doubt hydrogen will be an important part of our energy future. But how quickly we can get there, he said, depends on public policy, which is why he advocates a carbon tax, or some kind of clear price on carbon. 

I asked Linebarger why other business leaders haven’t been as aggressive as he has in pushing for government action on climate. “I think some are scared they are going to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” he said. “They are worried we’ll forget that capitalism is the biggest wealth generator in the history of mankind.”

But Cummins made the decision to support President Biden’s Build Back Better Act in its entirety, “despite some unattractive tax elements, because climate is existential,” he said.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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