Breaking: Duke Energy quits coal front group over climate bill — GE and Caterpillar should do the same

The National Journal reports this morning:

UPDATE (Sept. 2, 9:44 a.m.): Duke Energy left the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy on Tuesday over differences with “influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation in 2009 or 2010,” the company said.

The ACCCE is a coal industry front group that touts benefits of strong emissions regulations but that opposed the recent House energy and climate bill.  ACCCE is the source of the funding for fraudster Bonner who put out those fake anti-Waxman-Markey letters.  They have also hired top GOP voter-fraud company to run massive “grassroots” efforts to undermine climate and clean energy action.  And, of course, an ACCCE flack said mountaintop removal solves ‘lack of flat space’ in Appalachia.

The NJ article, “Shifting Alliances Define Energy Debate: By Playing Both Sides On The Climate Bill, Energy Companies Muddy The Lobbying Landscape,” is about the companies that have a dual membership in ACCCE and the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which supports the climate bill (and indeed, helped write it), including General Electric, Alstom Power and Caterpillar.

Here’s more on Duke’s action:

But on Tuesday, Duke left ACCCE because “as the debate evolved, it became clear that there were some influential members who would never support climate legislation no matter what,” Williams told this morning.

It was the second time this year that Duke terminated its membership with a group it didn’t see eye-to-eye with on policy. In May, it severed ties with the National Association of Manufacturers [NAM], due, “in part, to diverging perspectives on climate change legislation,” Williams said.

Duke publicly supported the House bill but would like to see parts of it tweaked in the final version. The company uses coal to produce 70 percent of the energy it generates in the U.S.

The question isn’t why Duke quit, but why serious companies like General Electric and Caterpillar haven’t?

UPDATE:  Wonk Room has a great post,”Duke Energy Quits Scandal-Ridden American Coalition For Clean Coal Electricity,” which notes other conflicts:

  • Members of USCAP and API: Siemens, General Electric [a division] and BP America
  • Members of USCAP and the Chamber of Commerce: Alcoa, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Deere & Company, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, and Siemens
  • Member of BICEP [Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy] and the Chamber of Commerce: Nike
  • Other ostensibly green companies on the boards of NAM and the Chamber include AT&T, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Corning, Ford, Honda, Toyota, 3M, Intel, and IBM.

UPDATE:  Energy Daily points out that they broke this story last night with Duke Quits Pro-Coal Group Over Climate Stance (subs. req’d)!

14 Responses to Breaking: Duke Energy quits coal front group over climate bill — GE and Caterpillar should do the same

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    General Electric and The API?

    Bravo! Now, I’d still like to know if General Electric (some of its units, if I understand correctly) will remain a member of the API, or if they’ll do the right thing and resign?

    Please let us know, GE.

  2. lgcarey says:

    Perhaps Duke’s business plan for its future differs from other “coal companies”?

    Duke To Build 200-MW Top of the World Wind Farm, Ninth in the US

    Duke Energy said this week that it plans to build and operate a 200-megawatt (MW) wind energy project near Casper, Wyoming. Known as the Top of the World Windpower Project, it will be the company’s ninth U.S. wind farm and its fourth in Wyoming.

  3. Bob Wallace says:

    If Duke is leaving because its future plans are to build wind farms that’s great news.

    The route to a successful energy bill will be much easier if the unified industrial opposition front crumbles. As some companies peel off to make money with green energy and green energy companies grow in size there will be significant counter-pressure to the coal lobby.

    It might be interesting to see a list of major corporations that are significantly involved in green energy.

    There’s Westinghouse making wind turbines….

  4. Greg Robie says:

    The decentralization of energy production is key to a sustainable change in the consumer’s behavior.

    If all that is done with this legislation is kowtow to our existing immature consumer mindset and centralized electrical generation business models, tipping points will be passed—if they have not been already—long before we get to what Al Gore stated was “the second phase” at the CAP meeting earlier this year (decentralized power generation).

    The business plans that are currently framing the “greening” of energy are all about big capital, and centrally controlled “solutions.” They are like the “solution” that financed nuclear in the ’70s—and interest only 30 year utility bonds; the earlier Price-Anderson Act that paved the way to secure the financing of nukes. The current “Phase I” solutions are, relatively, very secure for tying up capital for long periods of time with all-but-guarneteed stable rates of return. Why not start with “phase two” first? Is Wall Street concerned that they might get cut out; that the serfs might break their shackles and grow up to act responsibly?

    Thinking about the “battery-problem-solved” post the other day I’m wondering about small scale versions of a hybrid of compressed air and hydro for urban settings. Does it make sense to used off-peak wind/solar power to compressed air that could be used pressurize water to the top of apartment buildings and then—with gravity—run micro hydro turbines in the basements. I am pretty sure that once tenants/owners/blocks/neighborhoods have, as a common interest, living within the power constraints of what they can generate . . .

    Until you try letting people collaborate and be responsible you can never be sure whether we have been immature and irresponsible because this is the nature of the GI and Boomer generations, or making us so is how best to exploit us/US.

    BTW, the solar/wind rural/suburban energy solution is already available but for: 1. a real price on carbon—makes conservation both environmentally, socially, and economically valued; 2. a government policy that subsidizes the self-interest of the individual the way, what is being pushed, subsidizes a moneyed and politically connected elite.

  5. Bob Wallace says:

    Things like power generation and storage are generally less expensive when we build them large rather than small. Building a zillion little CAES sites won’t be as efficient as using a few existing very large caverns to store the compressed air. (And we’re going to need the HVDC/UHVDC transmission grid anyway. Most urban sites don’t have enough 24/365 harvestable energy close by.)

    And when you get excited about every building doing its own energy storage, think about who is going to maintain those systems. Can you depend on the building super to keep the terminals clean and tight, check for leaks, run the safety checks, …?

    Or are you going to send a maintenance worker around to building after building to check things out? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put all the connections, potential leaks, etc. where the maintenance workers are?

    Don’t pitch your solutions based on the behavior of the “greenest”, most reliable people, but take into consideration the vast number who do not take care of business.

  6. Greg Robie says:


    If I hear what you are saying, your argument is that homo sapiens are not sapient enough to run a society of the size and complexity that has been enabled with technological prowess, exploitable fossil carbon, regulated (and—more to the point—unregulated) fractional reserve banking, and fiat currencies denominated in consumer credit . . . without enlightened overseers. If so, haven’t the current “enlightened” overseers collapsed the system environmentally, socially, and economically due to a blind faith that ever increasing efficiency as some kind of a holy grail (and a public that can be made to guarantee all the risk)? If so, it sounds like this system is heavily dependent on the “vast number” (who, systemically, do not commensurately benefit from our current iteration of “friendly” fascism) being responsible.

    Regardless, how will the above set of dynamics be different should centrally controlled exploitable carbon becomes centrally controlled renewables? To the degree I’ve understood your argument, isn’t such an example of trying to use the thinking that created a problem to solve it? In matters of paradigm shifts, aren’t such, at best an oxymoron, at worst insane; a matter of “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again” . . . or whatever.


  7. Leif says:

    David Suzuki’s site references a report on the Canadian mining industry’s current attempts and needs to adapt to global warming. If there ever was an industry that you would thing was immuned to GW you might put mining on the top of the list. Wrong…

  8. Bob Wallace says:

    Greg, you don’t hear what I’m saying.

    What I’m saying is that there is an economic advantage to concentrating materials and skills rather than dispersing them too widely.

  9. Greg Robie says:

    Hi Bob,

    Reading your reply, I feel I did hear you, but I am not sure what I am saying about paradigm shifts can be heard.

    Anyway, to whom does the economic “advantage” you speak of accrue? Who counts and who doesn’t in such a paradigm of efficiency? If those who count is the financial and politically connected elite (a redundant statement!)


    Economically, history can be viewed as cyclical relative to amassing and redistribution of wealth. This occurs periodically when the above coalition of the elite, and those who feed on the crumbs that fall from their table, systemically fail to be just. Denial withstanding, the shift happens. The only choice is whether the change is violent or non-violent regarding the redistribution of wealth.

    In the current redistribution, the trump card is held by the climate. The globe is tracking toward, if not past, tipping points into klimakatastrophe. Scientifically inadequate ACES is an “as good as it gets” response to this crisis from the “enlightened” elite’s perspective. It remains an anathema for the neo-con elite. I have argued in previous comments here at CP that these behaviors are examples of different iterations of motivated reasoning. Neither are based in rational thinking. Wealth redistributions are paradigm shifts. Part of what a paradigm shift is about is discovering how what one thought was rational thinking was, in fact, motivated reasoning. Such a critique is, I feel, applicable to what you think of as constituting “an economic advantage.” Using an analogy from nature, such surety is like a monoculture. A monoculture is efficient and profitable . . . until a blight hits and/or the weather changes. And then it isn’t.

    In the case of our financial sector (assuming you too are a US citizen), but for accounting rule changes, (at best) extra-legal interventions in private banking, insurance, and the auto industry, and the monetizing of debt, Wall Street collapsed; the public guarantees of the financial sector are all, but for the above interventions, coming due in a perfect storm scenario. There is something like a $590 trillion dollar hole in the economic scheming of the financing of global capitalism, which Wall Street is dependent on. This hole must be bridged for this system to again concentrate wealth; for tax revenues to recover to cover the costs of government; for the old paradigm to be “recovered.” Thinking/feeling this will happen because it “always has“ is the height of hubris. This is especially true for this cycle since we have changed the climate and feel with ACES and, come December, some non-binding agreement relative to GHG emissions in 2050, that we are going to get a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and go directly to GO for a “do over” infusion of “green” wealth. That game of monopoly is over.

    That this system of “friendly” fascism has made it through two years as well as it has is a tribute to Wall Street’s manipulative skills and an ownership of the Federal Government, but not their sapience. The short-term rescue of themselves at the expense of main street is short-sighted. $590 trillion is the entire global economy for 9 years—using the most generous of measurements: the GDP (PPP) @ ~$65 trillion per year. My bias is that our “advantage” “has been a long time coming” and “its gonna be a long time gone.” Climate change is going to see to that we experience a paradigm shift.

  10. Mike D says:

    “If I hear what you are saying, your argument is that homo sapiens are not sapient enough…”

    Yes. As has been proven over and over again throughout the history of our species.

  11. Greg Robie says:

    Morning Mike,

    Doesn’t the proof you reference relate to failed status quos/paradigms, but not—at any given time—all of the specie’s social memes? In the past, hasn’t the fact that there is social diversity meant that the more adaptable ones have survived; that “history” has continued? If so, isn’t there at least the possibility that the species is sapient enough to evolve/mature, but simply not oriented to be so in mass? And I am thinking of Charles Mackay insight: ”Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.”

    In my experience, what is systemically sapient is always among the species—if hidden in plain sight to an elite. It seems to me that this is thanks to motivated reasoning dynamics among a piously privileged elite. One of the characteristics of such an elite, and its iteration of motivated reasoning, is that it, in the course of a rise to power, trades feelings for rational thinking; learns to trust a non-rational fear-driven systemic accumulating and concentrating wealth as being a means to sustainable wealth.

    The paradox, which Bob helped identify in this thread, is that, in the current failed paradigm, what is systemically inefficient masquerades—through the dynamics of motivated reasoning—as efficient. Such a trusted understanding of efficiency has, as an unintended consequence, a tendency for our society to engage in a rationally blind pursuit of ever greater ”efficiencies.” Add computers and programming into this mix and, systemically, this results in social delusions (madness) that exacerbate, functioning as positive feedbacks on digital steroids, the problem that is intended to be solved. In the financial sector an examples of this is the formula I linked to in another CP comment (to another Mike) that was trusted and led to the collapse of the derivatives market. In AGW matters, ACES, a jobs and energy bill, can be believed to represent—politically masquerade—as scientifically relevant climate change mitigation legislation.

    I commend _Paradigm Wars_ by Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz for insights as to how a failed status quo can hide our specie’s social sapience in plain sight; how a strategic move, such as Duke Energy’s support of both “sides” of the AGW dynamic is, as an implementation of the game theory. Its timing of this “quiting” means it is likely neither a change nor “good” news, but more of the same. Strategically, don’t they secure their place at the table where the legislation is being crafted and, thereby, position themsleves to protect the perceived viability of a business model? Can’t their “quitting” now be used for propaganda purposes to effect such an end? To me how ACES has both been crafted and is being defended is systemically insidious, not enlightened. Even so, such does not mean that our species is not enlightened/evolved enough, but rather that in the current paradigm, and among its elite (and elite wannabes), being rationally enlightened does not count.

    Anyway, I have valued yours and Bob’s interactions. They have afforded me a chance to argue and attempt to clarify my perceptions; to post them for additional evaluation . . . and I appreciate Joe’s openness to allowing a diversity of thought and critique to be included in the comments here at CP.

  12. Mike D says:

    There have been many paradigm shifts throughout history. None of them have made us any less self-interested or more far-sighted, at least not for very long. Our behavior may briefly change, but human nature won’t. Look at the oil embargo in the 1970s. Americans briefly flirted with smaller, more efficient vehicles, until gas supplies and prices stabilized, at which point we went right back to our gas-guzzling ways, which led directly to our current crisis. And even now we will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to our own salvation. The point is, people’s ways will change, they will think about and act for the collective good, but only if their hand is forced. But we don’t change until there’s a crisis, and as soon as the coast seems clear, we will naturally settle back into comfortable self-interest. In the current case, that will be too late. So it is up to the “elites” (some of them anyway) to herd us in that direction.

  13. Greg Robie says:

    Evening Mike,

    I’ve thought about your assessment of human nature. For our culture, today, such is a widely shared perception. However, developmentally, the nature you describe sounds like that of a adolescent—self-absorbed and wanting an adult figure to be responsible for them. Robert Bly wrote a book called _The Sibling Society_ that eloquently made the argument that in this culture we simply don’t do adult. He predicted this sibling society had another 50 years before it would be outgrown/outmoded. That was 10 years ago. As a litmus test of the efficacy of our liberal culture being individualistic and immature, today, about what do “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor”?

    Listen to Jimmy Carter trying to provide leadership/herdship when the issue was energy independence more so than global warming. Didn’t that go over like a lead balloon among the GI and Boomer generations? And it is interesting that Carter, with his graduate level work at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics, did not include nuclear energy in his plan for energy independence.

    PS: I am not sure what happened to the links in the previous comment, but they should have been, respectively:

    I have seen my browser seemingly not communicating cleanly with the CP server, so maybe that is why the coding got corrupted.

  14. Greg Robie says:

    OK, maybe I don’t know how to do the html coding. The Carter link is:

    At least I am consistent in how I am doing it wrong! Isn’t there a truism about this kind of consistency and small minds? =)