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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Utility-funded ads against Prop 7 go live!

The California Majority Report put up a post this morning that regurgitates the false and misleading lies in a television commercial airing against Prop 7. The author of the post toed the Big Utility line. I immediately registered so that I could leave a comment/rebuttal, which follows:

What a disappointment to see the California Majority Report joining the Big Utilities’ rank and file advocates by parroting their lies about Prop. 7.

The ‘environmental’ coalition opposed to Prop 7 is the same coalition that made it possible for the Big Utilities to pass deregulation (resulting in CA’s energy crisis and rolling black outs) and then kill a voter-initiated ballot measure that would have mitigated those devastating effects. The National resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the chief ‘environmental’ opponents to prop. 7, was the architect of an almost identical campaign in the 90’s to promote the Big Utilities’ agenda of deregulation. Don’t trust me on this, I encourage you to look it up for yourself by going to any of the links listed below.

"See the following articles and books that credit NRDC with the 2001 energy crisis in CA (also referenced in a previous post): “How Environmentalists Sold Out California to Help Enron,” Center for Media and Democracy, Third Quarter Volume 3 2003; “A Dime’s Worth of Difference,” Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, (Counterpunch 2004) available at http://www.amazon.com/Dimes-Worth-Difference-Beyond-Counterpunch/dp/1904859038; “American Foundations: An Investigative History,” Mark Dowie, (MIT Press 2001) available at http://books.google.com/books?id=Nv1SZdM1tz0C; “Power Play: A California Ballot Drive Tries to Short Circuit a Utility Industry Bailout,” Harvey Wasserman, 10/27/1998, available at http://www.salon.com/news/1998/10/27newsb.html to name only a few."

As to the Democratic Party’s opposition – well, what can I say? Money talks. Also from an earlier post:

"This is how serious Pacific Gas and Electric and the other Big Utilities in CA are about defeating Prop. 7: They contributed $24 million dollars to the No on Prop 7 campaign (to date, the only money funded the No on Prop 7 side). Compare that to the total giving by electric utilities to candidates in the 2004 and 2006 election cycles: $30.3 million. That’s right, the Big Utilities in CA are spending almost as much as all the nation’s electric utilities did in two election cycles just to defeat prop. 7. And that’s not to mention the millions spent over the years “sponsoring” events and doling out grants to ‘environmental’ groups. I expect we’ll be seeing some gloom and doom television commercials to incite hysteria in the coming days.On a related note, California’s Democratic and Republican Party committees were among the highest recipients of energy industry money in 2004 and 2006, taking $1,113,180 and $4,000,357 respectively."

As to the California Young Democrats – the chair of CYD is an employee of the NRDC. I would encourage him to make a public statement to the effect: “I never allowed my vested interest as an employee of NRDC to influence the vote of the California Young Democrats.”
Oh and that these hefty Big Utility contributions to CYD had no impact on CYD’s vote:

7/24/2007 Sempra Energy to Young Democrats-$5000 (3rd largest donation)
8/18/2005 Southern California Edison - $1000


Monday, August 25, 2008

LA Times: "Utilities should push for AB 411 if they want weaker renewable standards in CA"

Well, this is interesting. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times decries the Legislature for its inability to act on AB 411, the bill that would increase the current RPS requirement to 33% by 2020, pointing out that even current law (AB 32) doesn’t bring CA to an acceptable goal for cutting greenhouse gases.

It would be all but impossible for the state to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 without the 33% standard. Yet despite the importance of the issue and its powerful backing, it apparently falls so low on the priority list for Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) that she has allowed the bill, SB 411, to gather dust in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it will almost certainly die unless there is immediate action.

But what’s more interesting to me is the comment about the utilities’ reaction to AB 411 and Prop. 7:

Just as mystifying as the lack of urgency on the part of Bass and other Assembly leaders is the reaction of the state's utilities, many of which oppose SB 411 because they don't like some of its rules or think it would benefit their competitors. But if they don't like the bill, they positively loathe Proposition 7. The initiative on the November ballot requires that the state get 50% of its power from renewable sources by 2025, a goal the utilities claim would be devastatingly expensive to meet. Yet polls show that Proposition 7 enjoys strong support among voters, and that support will only grow stronger if state lawmakers prove unwilling or unable to act; the smartest move by the utilities would be to lobby hard for SB 411.

Apparently, if the Big Utilities want to keep the RPS requirements weaker, they should support AB 411. One of the talking points you here over and over again from the Big Utilities and the select environmental groups that oppose Prop 7 is that CA already has the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard in the country, and thus Prop 7 isn’t necessary. It will be interesting to see if the Big Utility lobbyists do start quietly shifting their support to AB 411. If anyone happens to work in the legislature, please let us know if you see PG&E or Sempra (or other Big Utility) haunting to halls in support of AB 411. It will be interesting to see how the unveils.

Labels: ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,