Shareholders beat NRG on ‘Carbon Principles’

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ruled that nuclear power utility NRG Energy must allow shareholders to vote on a proposal to have the company justify its involvement with the so-called “Carbon Principles” –a green initiative to pressure banks not to finance coal-fired power plants.

The Free Enterprise Action Fund submitted the following proposal to NRG Energy on December 1, 2008:

Carbon Principles Report

Resolved: The shareholders request that the Company prepare by October 2009, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, a Carbon Principles Report. The report should describe and discuss how the Company’s involvement with the Carbon Principles has impacted the environment.

Supporting Statement:

Coal is used to provide 50 percent of the U.S. electricity supply. The burning of coal by U.S. electricity utilities is clean and safe for the environment. Air emissions are regulated by states and the federal government. Since burning coal is the least expensive way to produce electricity, consumers and the U.S. economy benefit from comparatively low electricity rates.

The Company is an “industry advisor” to the so-called “Carbon Principles,” a voluntary bank lending policy stigmatizing and discriminating against coal-fired electricity based on the dubious assumption that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal are causing global warming.

But in May 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine released a petition signed by more than 31,000 U.S. scientists stating, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will cause in the future, catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate…”

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change issued in June 2008 states, “No firm link between the documented [climate] changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established.”

Researchers belonging to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in the science journal Nature (May 1, 2008) that, after adjusting their climate model to reflect actual sea surface temperatures of the last 50 years, “global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade,” since natural climate variation will drive global climate.

Climate scientists reported in the December issue of the International Journal of Climatology, published by the UK’s Royal Meteorological Society, that observed temperature changes measured over the last 30 years don’t match well with temperatures predicted by the mathematical climate models relied on by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A British judge ruled in October 2007 that Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” contained so many factual errors that a disclaimer was required to be shown to students before they viewed the film.

NRG asked the SEC asked for permission to exclude the proposal from its annual proxy statement — and thereby deny shareholders a chance to vote on the proposal — claiming that it had only a limited advisory role in the development of the Carbon Principles.

But the Fund countered that,

[The proposal] requests a report on how NRG’s involvement with the Carbon Principles has impacted the environment. NRG admits it helped draft the Carbon Principles. NRG now apparently wants to get away with claiming that, “All we did was draft the Carbon Principles. But we’re not involved with them.” This is disingenuous. Drafting rules for lenders to comply with renders NRG inseparable from the Carbon Principles’ process.

The SEC decided in favor of the Free Enterprise Action Fund — and the rest of NRG’s shareholders.

The upshot is that NRG shareholders will have the opportunity to vote on the proposal through proxy voting and at the NRG annual meeting.

Stay tuned for developments.

Greens seek to shutdown coal plants

Moving on their success in slowing, if not halting the construction of new coal-fired power plants across the country, the green are setting their sights on existing plants.

Carbon Control News reported that a Sierra Club official told a March 14 meeting of the American Bar Association that,

“The next thing in the environmental community is how do we start shutting down old plants . . . and replace those with energy efficiency or renewable power… That’s where our efforts are focused now.”

“Old,” of course, is a euphemism for “existing.” A plant could have been built yesterday, but if it burns coal the greens want you to think it was built 50 years ago.

Carbon Control News further reported that,

[The Sierra Club official] said that he and other environmentalists plan to use a combination of strict emissions mandates to address air quality and climate change—such as new national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) and first-time rules on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—to make traditional coal-fired electricity generating units (EGUs) “dinosaurs” that need to be shut down and replaced with energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

The greens also plan to make coal waste disposal more difficult:

… environmentalists say the potential regulation of coal combustion waste (CCW) as a hazardous substance could also contribute to the activists’ overall effort to curtail the use of coal-generated power by making the business less profitable because of disposal costs.

Steve Milloy’s new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You CAn Do to Stop Them spotlights how the greens aren’t really interested in “clean energy.”

Senate seeks home appliance mandates

From the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

Congress Considers New Mandates on Consumers,
Appliances In Midst of Recession

Senate Seeks Costly New
Product Restrictions

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2009—In the midst of the current economic crisis, Congress is considering new mandates and restrictions on consumer appliances. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources today is scheduled to hear testimony on a bill (the Appliance Standards Improvement Act of 2009) to impose more stringent energy efficiency standards.

“When Congress talks about ‘efficiency mandates’ and ‘saving consumers money’ in the same bill, it’s time for the public to run for the hills,” said Sam Kazman, General Counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “If new technologies will truly save consumers money, we don’t need Congress to mandate them. And when Congress does mandate them, it’s a good hint that those are lousy technologies.” In recent years there have been a number of appliance fiascos caused by higher efficiency standards, ranging from clothes washers that couldn’t wash to “high-efficiency” dishwashers that were anything but.

The bill, introduced by committee chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) would expand the Department of Energy’s appliance standards program and the federal Energy Star program. It would also subject floor and table lamps to the upcoming ban on incandescent bulbs. Mr. Kazman stated: “The federal ban on incandescent bulbs is one of the most extreme examples of nit-picking government intrusion into every aspect of our daily lives.”

» Read more on President Obama’s proposed appliance efficiency mandates at OpenMarket.org.

» Read Sam Kazman in the American Spectator on light bulb mandates.

Greens take aim against oil shale

The U.S. is the “Saudi Arabia” of oil shale, a potentially huge domestic resource of oil. As current technologies for processing oi shale require substantial amounts of water, oil companies are naturally purchasing water rights in the West.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the green group Western Resource Advocates has issued a report on the oil industry’s water rights acquisitions.

The aim of the report is to pit “Colorado communities, farmers, ranchers” against the oil industry in order to stymie oil shale development and American energy independence.

Steve Milloy’s new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them spotlights how the greens are trying to cause chaos in our energy and water supplies.

Starbucks CEO: Lobbying against his own earnings

The Wall Street Journal reported today that,

Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Howard Schultz said the coffee chain would combat the notion that its drinks are expensive, as he outlined plans to weather an economic downturn.

Starbucks starting suffering when gas skyrocketed to a green-induced $4/gallon. The choice for consumers between gasoline and a $4 coffee was pretty easy to make. And where $4 gasoline left off, the global financial crisis picked up.

Starbucks investors might want to ask CEO Howard Schultz why he is lobbying for economy-harming global warming regulation, which could easily bring back $4+ gasoline, higher electricity prices and more — none of which is good for the $4 coffee business.

Take action:

E-mail Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and tell him to wake up and smell the coffee — mindless green will hurt his business.

Steve Milloy’s new book Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them spotlights how corporate CEOs are leading our country to green wreck-and-ruin.

EU energy chiefs: Taxpayer cash is king

Today’s Financial Times features a headline that reads,

Energy chiefs urge action on carbon

And what do you think that action might be? Reducing fossil fuel use? Increased wind power? What?

The FT reported,

The chief executives’ demands include the speedy release of subsidies for carbon capture and storage, incentives to build new grid connections…[Emphasis added]

As always in the case of rent-seekers, cash (from taxpayers) is king.