The planet is in a nearly two-decade global warming standstill; an Arctic research expedition to study warm was halted due to too much ice; polar bear habitat is healthy; another quiet hurricane season is expected; and a paper on sea level rise by climate alarmism founder Dr. James Hansen has been dismissed by his fear-mongering colleagues as “flimsy.”
Nonetheless the corporate world has loyally marched to the White House doorstep to pledge fealty to President Obama’s carbon dioxide reduction agenda. On Monday 13 large companies announced they would collectively spend $140 billion on various initiatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and expand so-called “clean” energy. The collective action has been dubbed the “American Business Act on Climate Pledge” by the White House, and is intended to enhance the president’s negotiating position at international climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
“Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries, all of which imperil public health, particularly for vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color,” the White House press office said in a statement. “No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead.”
Upon that false premise Obama brought in many of the usual renewable corporate cronyism suspects for the White House dog-and-pony show: Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart. Some are known for taking advantage of government-distorted “markets” (i.e., subsidies and mandates) that keep renewable energy profitable; others have been big supporters of Obama during his campaigns; others were recipients of bailout funds from the administration; and others just purely pander to the “green” agenda. Some fit two or more of the categories.
Would any of the above companies be so environmentally altruistic if government – meaning the Obama administration – wasn’t manipulating regulations and extending corporate welfare as a carrot? It’s hard to imagine that would be the case. For example, Bank of America says it has poured billions of dollars into its “environmental business initiative.”
“We are putting our financial capital, our intellectual capital, and the strength of our partnerships to work to help create a better future for all of us,” said BofA CEO Brian Moynihan.
The mega-bank announced in its press release that it would increase its “environmental business initiative” from $50 billion to $125 billion in “low carbon (dioxide) business” by 2025. It claims to have provided more than $39 billion to finance “low-carbon (dioxide)” activities since 2007 – 40 percent of which went to renewable energy projects and 33 percent funded energy efficiency. Similarly, Goldman Sachs says in 2012 it committed to invest $40 billion in clean energy and plans to expand that pledge.
It’s doubtful that BofA, Goldman Sachs or others would be so ambitious throwing money at these sectors if taxpayers weren’t on the hook for the majority of their costs. As NLPC has reported in the past, investors in renewables enjoy a wealth of revenue-generating benefits from government that include accelerated depreciation (which frees up cash flow and reduces the corporate tax burden), a bevy of tax credits, and various grants and government contracts that assure income. In addition, as archived at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, there are hundreds of additional incentives across the country offered at the state and local level.
As Obama supporter Warren Buffett – the financial brawn behind Berkshire Hathaway Energy – said last year, “On wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
In recent years NLPC president Peter Flaherty has called Walmart to account, via shareholder actions, for its support of cap-and-trade and for initiatives such as the use of 100-percent renewable energy, and creating “zero waste,” as policies that he said “are neither achievable nor desirable.” Likewise Apple – with Al Gore among its directors – has been shown by NLPC to make fraudulent claims that its data centers are powered completely by renewable energy, when in fact they enjoy consistent, cheap electricity supplied by Duke Energy while pushing expensive, intermittent solar onto the utility grid. There are countless other schemes under which businesses profit, while taxpayers foot the bill, without benefit.
The corporate “climate pledge” to Obama is no noble commitment. It’s a scam.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center and publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, an aggregator of North Carolina news.