President Barack Obama is showcasing Wal-Mart, often a target of labor groups and other Democratic constituencies, to promote advances in energy efficiency in his broader campaign to confront climate change.
Obama on Friday was to announce commitments from more than 300 companies and local and state governments to use solar energy technology. He also was announcing executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency in buildings and appliances. The White House says the solar effort will power the equivalent of 130,000 homes and the administrative actions could reduce carbon pollution in an amount equal to taking 80 million cars off the road for one year.
The White House chose Wal-Mart because the company has committed to doubling the number of solar energy projects at its stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers.
But in choosing the giant retailer as the backdrop for his announcement, Obama triggered a backlash from labor unions and pay equity advocates who say Wal-Mart pays low wages and who archly noted that Obama has made pay equity a central issue of his presidency.