Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Divided and Conquered

A Wall Street Journal article today ("In Climate Controversy, Industry Cedes Ground") shows how American industry is capitulating on the global warming issue. Captains of industry are falling all over themselves to proclaim their eagerness for controls on carbon dioxide emissions... as long as the controls hit other industries more than their own.

Duke Energy CEO James Rogers, long known as an "environmentalist" CEO, despite his helming some of the largest carbon dioxide producing coal-burning utilities in the country, best captures this attitude, when he said, "If you're not at the table when these negotiations are going on, you're going to be on the menu."

Rogers is doing his best to make sure that utilities other than his will be on that menu. He supports one form of carbon dioxide controls that will favor coal-burning utilities like his own and disadvantage, on a relative basis, other utilities that emit less carbon dioxide. Needless to say, the CEOs of those other utilities support their own carbon dioxide controls that especially favor their companies, in relative terms.

The article points out that the automobile manufacturers favor controls on the utilities and oil companies, and the oil companies favor controls on the automobile manufacturers and utilities. The utilities just want to make sure all sectors of the economy face controls, so that their industry is not singled out.

Amidst all this jockeying to beggar-thy-neighbor, almost no one is asking why carbon dioxide should be controlled at all. One of the only companies that was doing that, ExxonMobil, just threw in the towel after being threatened by a couple of senators [hat tip: Gus Van Horn].

One thing is clear amidst all this jockeying is that the beggars at the table will soon discover that they are the only ones on the menu.


Mike N said...

Yes, the CEOs are the only ones on the menu. The greens don't care what kind of green policy any company has. They only want businessmen to admit that their product is in some way hurting nature and that they are doing it for profit. The greens will be back and it won't be pretty. They'll have federal agents with them as the feds nationalize the CEO's industries reminding the CEOs that they have admitted to hurting the enviroment and doing it for profit. How will the CEOs respond? By claiming "But we have a right to?"

Galileo Blogs said...

You are right when you say: "They only want businessmen to admit that their product is in some way hurting nature and that they are doing it for profit." By gaining that admission, the greens in government secure all the justification they need for expanding their power over the companies.

When this is matched to a cause as open-ended and fuzzy as global warming, their potential for lording over business is almost unlimited.

Now that I think about it, it looks like the companies in the industries I mention could become as vilified as the tobacco manufacturers, and as utterly incapable of resisting the regulatory and legal onslaught brought against them.

Your statement, "The greens don't care what kind of green policy any company has," is also true. The greens care only about power, and "environmentalism" is just their means to that end.

Thank you for your interesting observation.