Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Wicked Wednesday in the heartland, and more

Wicked Wednesday: We all know coal is a dirty business, but this item may touch new dirty depths:

Peabody Energy, the nation’s biggest coal producer, is gagging (as if on coal dust) to explain how and why it tried to covertly underwrite sleazy ads that have appeared this week in Kansas newspapers.

As noted in today’s Washington Post (too bad the editors buried the piece ) and a New York Times blog yesterday Peabody is the main money behind “Kansans for Affordable Energy” – official sponsor of the ad, which shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asks: “Why are these men smiling?”

The ad claims it’s because Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius blocked air pollution permits for two coal-fired electricity plants. It alleged this would mean “Kansas will import more natural gas from countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.”

The claim, of course, is utter bs. But it shows just how dirty the politics are getting as the nation wrestles with the global warming problem. By the way, our friend and Gristmill blogger Dave Roberts may have been the first one to flag this outrage, on Monday Thank you, Dave!


Covert Co-op? Another co-sponsor of the ad was the Sunflower Electric Power Corp., which is owned by six rural electric cooperatives. Sunflower, of course, is the outfit whose permit application was rejected. But on the company’s web site , Sunflower does tout the dirty ad campaign – while not ‘fessing up to its role in the matter. Geez!

Could it be that the Kansas co-ops are also smarting at the special deal that rural electric co-ops in Montana and Virginia got in the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill? (You may recall that co-ops in those states received a special “pilot program” deal that we calculate will be worth more than four billion dollars in free emission credits.) The special deals were cut, apparently, to make it easier for Senators John Warner and Max Baucus to support the controversial legislation.

The full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold its first hearing on the bill tomorrow morning, starting at 9:30. A second hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

We can’t wait to see the reaction of several senators – including Tom Carper (who wants the legislation, appropriately, we believe, to cover other power plants pollutants in addition to carbon dioxide) and Hillary Clinton, who announced her support for a 100% carbon auction program this week (in contrast to the multi-billion dollar free credit giveaway in the Lieberman-Warner bill.)


O-boy: As you know, presidential candidate John Edwards took a shot at the Lieberman-Warner bill last week because of the credit giveaway. And now a key energy adviser to rival Barack Obama is reiterating his candidate’s support for a 100% auction program. (Dave Roberts flagged this also.)

“Obama’s proposal requires all polluters to pay. If you’re a polluter in this country you can no longer pollute for free. You have to pay,” noted Obama adviser Madhuri Kommareddi.“This is where the auction comes in. The government isn’t going to say, ‘this is how much you have to pay.’ Instead, we’ll let the market decide the price by allowing companies to purchase credits in an auction….

“What’s important to note is that we’re implementing a 100% auction of cap-and-trade credits. This has the same effect as carbon tax—because it raises the costs of polluting and everyone has to pay. The benefit of this is that it’s more flexible and market driven."


Clean cars: In cased you missed it, this week Colorado announced a new climate action plan, including a clean-car program that will mirror the California greenhouse gas vehicle standards. That marks the 17th state to move forward with the California plan, whose fate rests in the hands of the Bush Administration.

At the White House, car-company lobbying continues, with the most recent documented visit coming from the folks at Porsche. Their zippy cars aren’t exactly known for superior gas mileage or low greenhouse gas emissions.

Even though this was apparently a meeting to discuss upcoming US EPA standards, the White House blundered and described it as a meeting about “fuel efficiency” – perhaps a tip-off to the legally careless Bush attitude about these matters.

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