Let's face it - being 'green' is the new cool. But sometimes an ulterior, industry-driven motive lurks behind the 'green halo' that we trust in so-called environmental organizations. This blog is dedicated to keeping individuals and organizations who claim to be for clean, renewable energy accountable.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

CA League of Conservation Voters Sponsored by PG&E - Over and Over

I couldn’t help but notice that the Utility-Shill enviros are hyper-sensitive for getting called out as utility shills. That’s probably because they’ve had an extremely lucrative racket for decades: adopt a go-along, get-along attitude with the utilities, and the utilities reward them with thousands of dollars to do things like study polar bears. (Don’t misread that last statement, I love polar bears as much as the next guy, but maybe the ice caps melting all around the polar bears warrants attention too). I’m quite confident the conversation between John White, the ED of CEERT, and Ralph Cavanagh, the NRDC “energy czar” who made rolling blackouts in California possible, was less about the merits of Prop. 7 when they learned of it, and more about how in one fell swoop the utility-enviro racket they’d spent decades developing would be put out of business.

When I started this blog, it was because the opposition to Prop 7 genuinely baffled me. I posed this question in my first post and I’ll present it again now: Why on earth would the environmentalists oppose an initiative that strengthens and extends the renewable standards already in place in CA? Why would the Democratic Party oppose an initiative that not only meets but exceeds its platform position on the environment?

When I started poking around on the internet and seeing all the money, connections and long history flowing between the utilities and the environmentalists opposed to Prop 7, I was alarmed and wanted to know if I was right. But all my suspicions were confirmed by the knee-jerk reactions from Cavanagh and White when they got called utility shills.

For example, there was a comment to an article written by CEERT’s John V. White in the LA Times in which he emphasizes that people should put solar panels on their roofs in order to curb global warming. I gently stated that it was no surprise CEERT would tell consumers, and not the Big Utilities, to change their ways, since the majority of CEERT’s board of directors is comprised of current and past executives from all the major utilities (Enron, PG&E, SDG&E, the list goes on and on and on). I don’t think 12 hours went past before John White was up with a defensive “I am not a utility shill!” response.

Well, Mr. White, Mr. Cavanagh, oh and Brian Leubitz (the calitics blog operator who works for No on 7 and thus takes Big Utility money himself) would be more convincing if the overwhelming evidence wasn’t piling up against them. Let’s take, for example, the California League of Conservation Voters (CLVC). Not only are the Big Utilities applauded as “champion” sponsors of CLVC events on the CLVC website, their Board of Directors reads like a who’s who from PG&E and SDG&E, including a man who started his legal career at PG&E and ultimately won a U.S. Supreme Court case for PG&E’s “Corporate First Amendment rights!”

CLCV and Money from the Utilities – be sure the click to hyperlink to see CLVC’s website lauding PG&E and Sempra!

CLVC’s 13th Annual Environmental Leadership Awards – Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric and The Gas Company

CLVC’s 14th Annual Environmental Leadership Gala – Sponsored by PG&E and Sempra

CLVC’s 24th Annual Environmental Leadership Award – Champion Sponsor PG&E

CLVC’s 26th Annual Environmental Leadership Award – Champion Sponsor PG&E

And then there are the direct contributions:

$12,500 - 2007 PG&E grant
$5,000 - 2006 PG&E grant
$5,000 - 2005 PG&E grant
Total = $22,500 over three years from PG&E.

CLVC’s Board of Directors is loaded with Big Utility insiders:

Robert L. Harris is a former PG&E lawyer and the former Vice President of Environmental Affairs at PG&E. Harris began his career with PG&E, and in 1985 he argued on behalf of PG&E to the United States Supreme Court to allow PG&E to send political editorials to its customers (in the envelope that contained the monthly billing statement) on messages PG&E wanted to propagate – USING ratepayer’s money to do it. In other words, the current secretary of the CLCV won the case that allowed PG&E to use its customers’ money to send political messages to those customers, citing Corporate Free Speech rights.

Cliff Gladstein, the CLCV Board President, “used his knowledge and experience in developing and implementing technology deployment programs for… Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric.

Anne Shen Smith, a board member, is “senior vice president of customer services for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Sempra Energy’s California regulated utilities. Smith oversees all customer-related activities for SDG&E and SoCalGas, including call centers, in-home appliance services, revenue cycle services, energy efficiency and demand-reduction programs and special customer assistance programs. Smith also oversees the Gas Acquisition department at SoCalGas, which is responsible for procurement of natural gas for all the residential and small business customers. Previously, Smith served as vice president of support services and vice president of environment and safety for SoCalGas. Smith started her career with SoCalGas in 1977.”

Now, instead of wondering whether or not there is a connection between the Big Utilities and the environmentalists opposing Prop 7, I demand answers from the CLVC, the NRDC, and CEERT. Explain to me, on behalf of the hundred of thousands of small contributions you’ve taken from your members, how you can say with a straight face that you are fighting the Big Utilities that fund you and make up your board memberships? Doesn’t common sense dictate that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you? Why should we believe your sincerity in opposing Prop 7 when you are so clearer tied to the Big Utilities that Prop. 7 would regulate?

Your members, and the CA voters you are deceiving on behalf of the Big Utilities, deserve better.

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Blogger Mr. Clean said...

Excellent post! I would love to pick your brain on this. shoot me an email - cleanupcleanenergy at gmail.com

August 26, 2008 at 8:33 AM


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