When the Appeased become the Appeasers

Today’s Journal also reports that the two environmental groups that endorsed the recent buyout of the utility TXU Corp. after the company agreed to not build several previously planned coal-fired power plants — the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environmental Defense — are under fire from other green groups for not being even more stridently opposed to new energy production, and for allegedly falling for a TXU public-relations ploy.

“Just days after two of the nation’s leading environmental groups blessed an investor plan to buy TXU Corp. and take the controversial Texas utility in a new and “greener” direction, a battle has broken out in the environmental community over the terms of the deal.

“The Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense claimed victory Monday when a holding company formed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Texas Pacific Group and other investors announced the biggest buyout in history, a plan to take over TXU for $32 billion plus the assumption of around $12 billion in debt. The environmental groups, two of the most powerful and best-funded in the U.S., said they had extracted a pledge from the investors to cancel a slew of coal-fired power plants, cut emissions and back federal global-warming legislation.

“But now, opponents of the deal, in a blizzard of emails and Internet posts, have put the two organizations on the defensive by accusing them of settling for too little. The critics, who encompass a broad range of smaller environmental groups and individuals, say TXU should have been forced to give up all, not just some, of its future plans involving coal-fired power plants. The plants release substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas blamed in part for climate change.

“Even worse, some believe that the environmental interests were snookered. Since the buyout was announced, it has become apparent that some of the concessions involve projects that TXU was already planning to shelve for a variety of reasons. And TXU has fueled the skepticism further in recent days by outlining new loopholes in the pledge.

“NRDC and Environmental Defense ‘should be hung for what they’ve done,’ fumed Tim Hermach, executive director of the Native Forest Council, a group in Eugene, Ore….”

It’ll be interesting to see how this feud plays out — since all parties to it are in the wrong. We at CEI have long argued against the activist appeasement tactics of the kind TXU is pursuing (especially when the activists oppose your company’s core activities, in this case carbon-based energy generation). We oppose NRDC’s and Environmental Defense’s anti-energy agenda — and we certailny oppose efforts to take it further. (Subscription required for Journal link.)