Jim Rogers, Duke’s Charlatan CEO

Our guest blogger is Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

Jim Rogers, “Green Coal Baron”In yesterday’s New York Times Sunday Magazine, Clive Thompson profiled Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers in a 5,000-word hagiography entitled “A Green Coal Baron?” According to Thompson, Rogers is “brimming with enthusiasm” for solar power, “one of the electricity industry’s most vocal environmentalists,” with “a nerd’s optimism” for technology ideas that have “fired up” Bill Clinton.

This article truly demonstrates that perhaps no corporate official in America has a better PR machine than Duke’s charlatan CEO.

Yes, he is “charming and natty.”

But his company is leading one of the most vile dirty-air efforts imaginable: it has sued to overturn the effort by the EPA to reduce deadly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from coal-burning electric power plants like those owned by Duke. (This is one of the few positive moves made by the Bush EPA.) The EPA calculated these cap-and-trade rules would prevent 17,000 premature deaths a year — and yet Rogers wants those requirements thrown out so his company can make a few extra bucks!

And he is the master of doubletalk. His company sought to gut “new source review” requirements for power plants (he lost at the Supreme Court), arguing that “cap and trade” would be a preferable approach to reducing power company emissions. Yet, as noted above, he simultaneously is trying to block “cap and trade” restrictions. What astonishing hypocrisy.

Oh, yes, there’s also the global warming issue. He claims he wants action to reduce emissions, but he bitterly opposed the so-called Lieberman-Warner plan, even though it would have given his company more than a billion dollars in free emission credits. Yet, Rogers wanted even more, and was willing to hold the bill hostage so he could get more. Duke sits on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and is a member of American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, all of whom vigorously lobbied against the bill with misleading talking points. Duke even rallied corporate customers against the bill, sending out form letters for them to hand to their senators. No wonder it failed so miserably.

We’ll have a new President in January. But Rogers will still be there.

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