Green Grass and High Times

How cute, Environmental Defense is declaring that “news just broke”—wink, they just now heard of it too!—that Texas Utilities (TXU) has agreed to a buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. joined by a group chock-full of greens called the Texas Pacific Group. Why is this cause for environmentalist joy (or at least joy among those who have a stake in the deal — whatever it is, they are not yet saying — a universe which does not yet include the unsated Public Citizen and Rainforest Action Network)? Well, it seems that, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“As part of the sale agreement, Environmental Defense helped negotiate an aggressive environmental platform that will, among other things:

  • Terminate plans for the construction of 8 of 11 coal-fired power plants TXU had hoped to build;
  • Stop TXU’s plans to expand coal operations in other states;
  • Endorse the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) platform, including the call for a mandatory federal cap on carbon emissions; and
  • Reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.”

Of course, Duke Energy endorses the CAP’s objectives, and is meanwhile building an enormous coal-fired power plant. And we won’t hold our breath for the other, less publicized terms of the deal to emerge, but it is fair to say that not even our green friends engage in acts that are not in their enlightened self-interest. Which brings to mind past precedent with such canoodling.

Remember Enron? NRDC and the rest of the greens sure are trying to hard to forget, what with all of the glowing testimonials scrubbed from the web pages of entities like the Pew Center on Global Climate. I seem to recall something about NRDC having a role in ensuring Enron was able to take over Portland General Electric, and their subsequent working relationship with Enron in pushing the Kyoto agenda. Let us wish TXU better luck.

Also, this may not be the time to remind our friends of other inconvenient truths as they—or, again, those with a stake in the deal—are celebrating as if they’ve won their war on affordable energy. This may be premature. It is true that linking executive pay to TXU’s performance in the now-agreed global warming schemes is a coup, reminiscent of other NRDC bedfellows like PG&E in California, which immediately turned to rent-seeking by pushing the first steps anyway of the alarmist global warming, Kyoto agenda.

But also recall that even their allegedly friendly administration of Clinton-Gore lifted nary a finger to encourage Senate ratification of the “first step” of the desired crash energy diet of windmills, mass transit, and European- or California-style blackouts. In truth, the United States will never do so, no matter how much they speak of “inevitability” (quite the popular catch phrase with all such fellow travelers, non?) Texas utility regulators acknowledge a growing economy and population; these electrons will need to come from somewhere. Since the greens are blocking efforts to import gas to Texas and windmills simply cannot supply the shortfall, in the end what we’re going to see is other market participants step in and build the coal-fired power plants that TXU backed away from as part of the deal.