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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Did PG&E Buy the CA League of Conservation Voter’s Endorsement Against Renewable Energy?

The popularly accepted definition of “greenwashing” is inextricably linked to corporate bad behavior. But what about the “green” groups that give these corporations cover?

During last year’s tumultuous campaign season, voters had the opportunity to place the strictest and most aggressive renewable energy mandate into law with Proposition 7. But an aggressive campaign defined by deceit and mired with lies was successful in defeating Prop. 7 because of two elements: (1) The spokespeople were well-known and trusted ‘stewards of the environment,’ groups like the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and (2) an unusually well-financed campaign of $30 million was provided by a largely silent group of Big Utilities: PG&E, Sempra, and Southern California Edison.

The enviros vehemently denied any coordination with the Big Utilities, but consider this:

Last year, when the CLCV was the first environmental group out of the gate opposing Prop. 7, they also took a whopping $75,000 ‘grant’ from PG&E for ‘environmental stewardship.’ I’ve already chronicled the tight-knit bonds between the CLCV and the Big Utilities in previous posts, but even in the face of years of taking money from PG&E, this amount is a jaw-dropper. For example, in 2005 CLCV took $5,000 from PG&E, in 2006 CLCV took $5,000, and in 2007 CLCV took $12,500 from PG&E. But in the same year that CLCV lined up with PG&E in opposing stronger renewable energy mandates, they took a payment 700% higher than any previous reported year. Even PG&E admits this large amount is an anomaly: according to the grant making page on PG&E's website, “the majority of our grants are in the $1,000 to $25,000 range. Most are under $15,000.”

This forces the question: Did PG&E buy the CA League of Conservation Voters’ endorsement? And if so, how do we ever trust them again?