Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers Keeps Pandering to Green Activists

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Jim Rogers photoThe latest pressure tactic engaged in by global warming activists is to crank out their own journalism, then get an allegedly objective news organization to run their stories. Such was the case recently with the group SolveClimate and the Reuters news agency, when they co-published an article that attempts to pressure corporations to adopt climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

The report was fused with another environmentalist strategy: use shareholder compulsion to convince corporate leadership of the need to address global warming. As National Legal and Policy Center reported in recent months, activists have:

SolveClimate began its story with one of climate alarmism’s darling companies, Duke Energy, noting how it joined forces with The Nature Conservancy in a $1 million effort to build up oyster reefs and aquatic vegetation beds in the Albemarle Sound near North Carolina’s Outer Banks to stave off the effects of global warming.  What effects? According to the Conservancy, “As the world heats up (not), sea level rises (maybe). The shoreline erodes,” and “Changing climate will likely lead to more, stronger nor’easters and hurricanes” – (not).

So where do the investors come in? SolveClimate/Reuters find a way by noting how corporations who address climate change via mitigation and adaption “will gain a competitive edge.” But just what that “edge” is supposed to be is a mystery. The “journalist” makes no attempt to show how a company like Duke Energy comes out ahead economically by spending financial resources to address phantom climate concerns. The only benefit that one can assume is that the corporation avoids a certain level of harassment from eco-minded nonprofits and investment groups.

Indeed, the article cites the pressure tactics on other companies by Calvert Investments, one of the several Green investors critical of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers. The group’s “sustainability analyst” Rebecca Henson told SolveClimate/Reuters, "[Impact management] is an opportunity for us to drive our investments to find ways to address adaptation and the impacts of climate change." In the view of alarmists like Henson, just because companies (like JM Smucker) depend on commodities (like coffee and palm oil) that are under an alleged threat from climate change (that would be all companies), they are irresponsible because they “still have no strategic plans in place to address climate change or its impacts.”

Fortunately for the Greens they still have Duke Energy and CEO Jim Rogers, who will soon run the nation’s largest utility after their merger with North Carolina-based Progress Energy is completed. He told online publication Fast Company that he recognizes “that after 50 years, the real price of electricity is going to rise because of tighter regulations on coal plants and the recognition that we have to restrict carbon.” Rogers said that means the replacement of nearly every one of Duke’s power plants by the year 2050.

How will Duke comply? Failing to cite the massive problems he has had with the coal gasification (for sequestration of carbon dioxide) plant the company is building in Edwardsport, Indiana, Rogers told Fast Company the only way coal could continue to be used is if technology is created to capture and store, or to recycle, carbon dioxide emissions. And asked whether he believed wind and solar would become affordable in the future, Rogers ignored over 100 years of those technologies’ failed history and said, “I am confident that over the next two to three decades you're going to see prices come down pretty dramatically.”

As has been reported earlier, Rogers has long been a proponent of cap-and-trade, keeping Duke’s membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (even as other industries dropped out). He doesn’t really care whether electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket” so long as he can game the emissions trading system in his favor. He bets big on those who control the regulatory environment, and less so on market forces, which is what you might expect from a business that is guaranteed a rate of return on the product is sells.

Paul Chesser is associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center and is executive director of American Tradition Institute.