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General Electric fights for change from the inside … of a scandal-ridden coal industry front group!

By Joe Romm  

"General Electric fights for change from the inside … of a scandal-ridden coal industry front group!"

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All of us who want to see the world changed for the better struggle with whether it is better to fight for that change from the inside or the outside.

But you can’t fight for change from inside an organization dedicated to stopping change, like, say, the scandal-ridden front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy.  You know that a coal-industry-funded group is beyond redemption when one of the largest coal utilities in the country abandons them (see “Breaking: Duke Energy quits coal front group over climate bill “” GE and Caterpillar should do the same“).  Duke explained in a statement:

“We believe ACCCE is constrained by influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation in 2009 or 2010.”

Duh.

The Center for Public Integrity’s excellent staff writer Marianne Lavelle managed to get GE on record with a truly laughable defense for their refusal to join Duke (and Alcoa):

But some companies that support climate legislation remain in the ACCCE fold “” the largest and most diverse being General Electric. GE spokesman Daniel Nelson said in an email that ACCCE does not reflect GE’s views on climate change legislation, which is that cap and trade would help “drive American technological innovation and competitive leadership”¦ We advocate that view within ACCCE and have and will work to make it the majority view in that organization.”

I feel those monkeys trying to fly out of my butt again….

Seriously, GE?   Even aluminum giant Alcoa, who quit more quietly, wouldn’t offer up such nonsense:

After the Duke story broke, the blog EnviroKnow confirmed that aluminum maker Alcoa had earlier quit the group.

The aluminum maker decided to quit paying dues to the coal advocacy group about a month ago as part of its company-wide effort to reduce costs. “You may have heard of a little thing called the economic downturn,” Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery said in an interview with The Center for Public Integrity. So it was an economic, rather than a philosophical decision? “Any kind of economic decision has to have a business case “” whether you invest money and make money at the end of the day,” Lowery said.

C’mon GE.  Do you really want to tarnish the EcoMagination brand?  Do you really want to be seen as a have-it-both ways greenwasher? It’s bad enough that one of the members of the uber-disinformer American Petroleum Institute is GE Inspection Services — with a broken link that takes us to GE Energy!

Let’s remember:

General Electric has about as much chance of getting ACCCE to change their position on the climate bill, as they do of getting Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) to change his.

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5 Responses to General Electric fights for change from the inside … of a scandal-ridden coal industry front group!

  1. Rick Covert says:

    And all this time I thought that they were the largest manufacturer of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    GE Should Leave The Organization

    C’mon!

    There are, of course, situations where there’s a reasonable chance for an organization to change its tune and where a member organization is genuinely pushing hard for it to do so, with a good chance of success.

    But C’mon! There are many other times when an organization is just not going to change, or when the chances are slim, and when a member organization is, in reality, and in effect, just holding on for the benefits of membership . . . selling products to the other companies in the group, avoiding getting on their bad side, and so forth.

    The climate issue is a vital one. GE can’t have it both ways. If they don’t leave this group, I’m putting them on my “don’t buy from” list. And to me, they’ll lose the credibility that they’ve had in my view for decades.

    GE, sometimes hard choices have to be made. And this is one of those times.

    By the way, Alcoa can explain its resignation from the group any way it wants. From the sound of it here, they made the choice based on narrow economics, or at least that’s what they want us to think. But here’s a quote from a year or two ago from Perry Minnis, who was Alcoa’s Global Director, Ethics & Compliance at the time, and (as far as I know) may still be:

    “You cannot be considered an ethical company if you do not follow sustainability principles. Nor can you apply sustainability concepts if you do not have a strong foundation of ethical principles. The two are intrinsically intertwined . . . ”

    – Perry Minnis, Global Director, Ethics & Compliance, Alcoa

    I sometimes use Mr. Minnis’ statement, which I got at an Energy and Ethics conference that he attended at the University of Tennessee, as one of many illustrations of my view on morality. Why do I use it? Because all things considered, in essence, IT’S CORRECT. And I’m “not just saying this”. The statement is correct, and it can be deeply and strongly supported, with roots down to deep bedrock.

    For context and fun, I’ll include just a few other illustrative quotes that touch on parts of the matter:

    “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” (Aldo Leopold)

    “Some people would rather die than think; and many do.” (Bertrand Russell)

    “Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.” (The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations)

    GE should do the right thing and pull out of the ACCCE. And indeed, it should make a clear “statement” when doing so. With power comes responsibility! And going through mental contortions to “explain” and excuse their continuing participation just doesn’t do it.

    Jeff Huggins

  3. Robert says:

    “Right on” Mr. Huggins! GE must stand for ‘G’reen ‘E’nergy. Their choice may be driven by the dollar but their moral choice must rule. Life as we know it stands in the balance. They know of the impending catastrophic crisis we all face with Global Warming. They must decide if they will build steam turbines for fossil fueled power plants at 35% efficiency [65% wasted heat energy dumped into the biosphere] or wind turbines with 0 emissions!

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Addendum (Sorry: can’t resist)

    It seems to me that GE is sending mixed signals, which in cases like this is usually a very good sign of disintegration of integrity. Shall we think of GE as . . . .

    “We bring good things to life”

    OR as . . .

    “We bring excessive CO2 to good things”

    OR as . . .

    “Corporate schizophrenia is a good thing” ??

    That said, I must admit that GE’s explanation is a good example of “imagination at work”.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

    (PS — Thank you for your comment Robert, 3)

  5. James Newberry says:

    One of the President’s advisors is the CEO of GE, at the same time that GE clearly displays dirty technology bias in more ways than one. One wonders how did the White House come to chose corporate officers, with biased agendas (such as ACCCE), as advisors on creating an economic recovery via a “clean energy economy?”

    Happy Labor Day