Party Time for Corporations Who Love the Regulatory Favoritism Game

Obama InvescoPresident Obama’s speech last week that re-emphasized his commitment to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions brought dismay to those who appreciate affordable energy, but it sparked a celebration among corporate types who have long sought caps and taxes on CO2.

While it was still more words from the president, which don’t always match his actions, on CO2 limitation he has largely kept his promise to environmentalists. Critics slammed his plan to bypass Congress and to task the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions via executive order, but EPA has operated out of bounds since he was inaugurated in 2009 – especially with the “war against coal” that is now universally accepted as true.

“What has us most encouraged by the president’s speech is he is lacing up his gloves and getting ready for that fight,” said Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, in an interview …

EPA’s Regional Administrators Love Activism, Litigation

armendarizThe suspicions of Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe were correct: Rather than sitting before the House Energy and Commerce Committee three weeks ago to explain the ways he “crucified” oil and natural gas companies, instead Al Armendariz – who cancelled his appearance at the last minute – met with the Sierra Club for a job interview.

This time the recently resigned EPA’s Region 6 administrator will eagerly attack another fossil fuel, joining the litigious environmental group as part of its “Beyond Coal” campaign. If there was any question that Armendariz unfairly regulated the gas and oil businesses under his authority in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and other neighboring states, the Sierra Club announcement left no doubt.

“I know how important it is to transition to cleaner sources of energy that don’t pollute the air that our children breathe,” he said, “and I’m proud to be working on a campaign with …

EPA Official Showers Love on Anti-Fossil Fuel Activists

Susan Hedman

As President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency continues to receive much-needed scrutiny as it conducts its reign of terror (“crucifying”) on fossil fuel industries, yet another renegade regional administrator has been shown in full alliance with environmental extremists in pursuit of regulations to kill oil and coal. Natural gas isn’t far down the hit list.

This time it’s Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman, a veteran attorney who has litigated environmental cases as part of the University of Maryland Environmental Law Center, as counsel for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and as senior assistant attorney general in the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Last August she joined dozens of activists outside her Chicago office to celebrate the expected implementation of EPA’s Mercury Air Toxics Standard, which was released in December. Bloomberg reported that the rule would cost utilities an estimated $9.6 billion per year in compliance costs, fulfilling the president’s …

Duke Energy Caves In to Pressure Groups’ Demands

Rogers photoIn yet another ploy to overcome opposition to their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy agreed with environmental groups last week to a few million more dollars in payoffs for “clean” energy schemes, and to implement energy efficiency programs that would reduce customers’ electricity use by seven percent of retail sales by 2018.

The deal has been planned for months, and when approved by state and federal regulators, will create the largest investor-owned electric utility in the nation. Combined the companies serve residents and businesses in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Southern Environmental Law Center all intervened in the hearings before the North Carolina and South Carolina utility regulatory commissions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also must approve the deal.

NLPC reported in September that the environmental pressure groups – whose calling cards are …

Duke Energy Juggernaut Won’t Stop Shakedown Artists

Jim Rogers photoIf it wasn’t already obvious, then a report in Friday’s Raleigh News & Observer about the merger hearings between Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the nation’s largest utility makes it clear: That Duke’s strategy is continued growth into “a political juggernaut.”

That’s what came out of the final day of testimony about the deal before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which appears to be the final major hurdle for the merger’s approval. The N&O cited “hints” by company executives about “further acquisitions down the road,” in which Duke would wield even more power than they do now.

Perhaps at some point the U.S. Justice Department will be required to approve Duke’s acquisitions to examine possible monopoly interests (which in reality, investor-owned utilities already enjoy). After this merger’s approval, in fact, Duke will be the service provider for almost the entire state of North Carolina – the exception being …

Duke – Progress Merger Provides Shakedown Opportunity for Activists

Rogers photoIt seemed the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the nation’s largest (by several measures) utility would sail through by the end of this year, but several activists in North Carolina have intervened at the last minute. The moves by environmental groups to extract funds for their pet projects out of the deal would make shakedown artists proud. Among the organizations – who have myriad methods of wringing dollars from taxpayers through lawsuits and corporate campaign-type pressure tactics – are Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Southern Environmental Law Center.

Armed with dozens of millions of dollars each, the litigation-loving Greenies made the laughable assertion – with help of friendly consultant Richard Hahn of La Capra Associates – that the new Duke Energy would produce more air pollution after the merger. It’s as if eco-group suck-up James Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, never had anything