To: Uncle Miltie
“GE is the biggest suckling at the Federal teat.”
You got that right. GE bought out the assets of ENRON. GE is the NEW ENRON.http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2258900/posts?page=10#10http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2258900/posts?page=13#13
AES and GE imitate Enron on coal and climate
By: Timothy P. Carney Examiner Columnist 05/26/09 6:19 PM EDThttp://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/AES-and-GE-imitate-Enron-on-coal-and-climate-46120417.html
A global power company that inherited some of Enron’s coal-fired power plants in Africa has also followed the late energy giant in the effort to profit from climate change legislation.
Virginia-based AES Corp. has partnered with General Electric Co. in peddling greenhouse gas offsets while lobbying for policies to make those offsets valuable the same buy-low, lobby-hard, sell-high strategy tried by Enron. AES simultaneous expansion of coal-fired power in Asia, South America and Africa, however, highlights how environmental regulations can yield profit without necessarily yielding environmental gains.
Before it collapsed in late 2001, Enron was the leading corporate lobbyist for restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. Former Chief Executive Officer Ken Lay called on both the Clinton and Bush White Houses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which one intracompany e-mail declared would be “good for Enron stock.” The company hoped to be the premier dealer in emissions credits that would be required after climate change legislation. Further, Enron’s natural gas pipelines would see increased demand as coal and oil would be made more costly.
At the same time, Enron owned coal-fired power plants in the developing world and was building more. Third World power plants are not covered by Kyoto, and pinching the developed world’s use of coal would make it cheaper to operate the coal plants in Nigeria.
When Enron died, its assets were scattered. Two heirs taking up both Enron’s power generation and its climate change entrepreneurship were General Electric and AES. GE got the windmills, and AES got floating coal-fired power plants off Nigeria’s shores.
AES is currently building a new coal-fired power plant in India with an accompanying coal mine. AES has also just opened a diesel-fired plant in southern Chile, adding to its four Chilean coal-fired plants. Last December, Vietnam’s government announced a joint venture with AES for a coal-fired power project there.
But at home, AES’s joint ventures have a greener hue. AES and GE have formed a company called Greenhouse Gas Services. GHGS invests in technologies aimed at reducing the gases blamed for global warming. Some of these products save money through energy efficiency, but many of them have value only if Congress passes legislation restricting emissions such as the Waxman-Markey bill currently before the House.
GHGS this month registered as a lobbying organization, working on “climate legislation” and operating from AES Arlington offices. AES, meanwhile, recently hired a new lobbying firm, Lighthouse Consulting. Lighthouse and its lead lobbyist, Merribel Ayres, are the organizational firepower behind the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the business coalition led by GE that has spearheaded the push for cap-and-trade climate legislation.
GHGS is particularly sensitive to how climate legislation accounts for “offsets” emissions credits granted for activities, such as tree-planting, that reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the air.
How to account for offsets is a contentious issue. For instance, planting trees absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but much of that CO2 will go back into the air when the tree rots or burns. Massive tree-planting to absorb CO2 could also create land-use problems.
Clearly, the final details on Waxman-Markey are crucial to GHGS. Importantly for environmentalists worried about manmade climate change, what’s best for reducing greenhouse gas emissions isn’t necessarily what’s best for GE, AES or their joint venture.
Companies that lobby for and profit from environmental regulations often get a free pass from critics who otherwise rush to assail corporate profits. As Timothy Noah wrote in Slate seven years ago, “the mere fact that Enron stood to benefit financially from the Kyoto Treaty, and therefore was pushing energetically for its passage, doesn’t in itself constitute an argument against the Kyoto Treaty.”
It’s true that corporate profit and environmental gain aren’t necessarily at odds. But the details of how AES and GHGS plan to turn carbon constraints into profits show how the idealistic goals of the environmentalists can be perverted and undermined by businesses looking to turn green into greenbacks.
Waxman-Markey would drive down the price of the coal AES will burn in Enron’s old Nigerian plants and in AES new Chilean and Vietnamese plants. Simultaneously, if crafted the right way the bill would drive up demand for the carbon offsets the company is selling here through its joint venture with GE
Enron may be long gone, but in AES and GE, its spirit lives on.
Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill stuffed full of unpleasant surprises
By: Examiner Editorial 05/22/09 4:39 AM EDThttp://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/Waxman-Markey-cap-and-trade-bill-stuffed-full-of-unpleasant-surprises-45836042.html
Obama’s hidden bailout of General Electric ( Cap and trade taxes )
Washington Examiner ^ | March 3rd | Timothy P Carneyhttp://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Obamas-hidden-bailout-of-General-Electric_03_04-40686707.html
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:29:12 AM by Halfmanhalfamazing
While many companies hire lobbyists to win earmarks, General Electric’s unmatched lobbying force has secured a tax increase or its equivalent in President Barack Obama’s budget.
Labeled “climate revenues” and totaling $646 billion over eight years, this line item in Obama’s budget has inspired confidence in GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt. As Immelt put it in a letter this week, he believes that the Obama administration will be a profitable “financier” and “key partner.”
On page 115 of Obama’s fiscal 2010 budget is Table S-2, titled “Effect of Budget Proposals on Projected Deficits.” The chart forecasts the costs of Obama’s spending proposals and the added revenue of his proposed tax increases. It also forecasts, beginning in 2012, billions of dollars a year in “climate revenues.” This budget line, which has struck fear into some lawmakers from coal-dependent states, could spell salvation for GE in these times of uncertainty.
How can Obama generate “climate revenues”? By forcing companies to pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
A tax on greenhouse gas emissions could accomplish this, but Obama’s preferred policy and the approach embraced by a few congressional bills in recent years is called “cap and trade.” In short, cap and trade requires businesses to spend “credits” to pay for their emissions. Businesses can buy or sell these credits, and the market not the government would directly set the price of a credit. Government would initially auction them off, generating revenue.
GE a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which advocates cap and trade leads the push for greenhouse gas restrictions.
In the fourth quarter of 2008 as the company’s stock fell 30 percent, GE spent $4.26 million on lobbying that’s $46,304 each day, including weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2008, the company spent a grand total of $18.66 million on lobbying.
Reviewing their lobbying filings, you might think you were looking at Al Gore’s agenda. GE’s specific lobbying issues included the “Climate Stewardship Act,” “Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act,” “Global Warming Reduction Act,” “Federal Government Greenhouse Gas Registry Act,” “Low Carbon Economy Act,” and “Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.”
This isn’t altruism or public relations. GE has started a joint venture called Greenhouse Gas Services, which invests in and hopes to manage the trade in greenhouse gas credits. But these investments and this trading floor are of basically no use and nearly no value without government restrictions on greenhouse gases.
Hence the lobbying, buttressed by generous campaign contributions: Employees and executives gave $1.35 million to politicians in the past election while GE’s political action committee shelled out $1.55 million. About 64 percent of this $2.9 million went to Democrats, with Obama easily the top recipient of GE money.
Obama’s budget includes the payoff, promising to start a multibillion-dollar greenhouse gas industry by 2012. In a letter this week, GE’S Immelt told shareholders that current events present an “opportunity of a lifetime,” because “capitalism will be ‘reset.’ ”
Immelt wrote: “The interaction between government and business will change forever. In a reset economy, the government will be a regulator; and also an industry policy champion, a financier, and a key partner.”
In short, GE plans to get rich by being one of the government’s closest partners which it has always been, thanks to its unmatched lobbying efforts.
The environmentalist at this point might respond, “Well, good for GE. if they can get rich while helping the planet, more power to them.” But this ignores important issues. First, restraining greenhouse gas emissions will cost Americans dearly. Gas, electricity and heating prices will all go up. The prices of manufactured and shipped goods will go up. A Clemson University report on similar cap-and-trade proposals forecast a 1 percent decline in he U.S. gross domestic product by 2015 if they were implemented.
There are environmental costs, also, to such a focus on greenhouse gases: Ethanol’s damage to water supplies, soil health and air quality are the fruit of government pushing the product as a climate-friendly fuel.
When the lobbying fingerprints of GE and other well-connected firms are considered, it’s not hard to conclude that the policy that will finally emerge won’t be the one that is best for the planet and least bad for the economy, but the one that is best for General Electric