Thursday, July 05, 2007 By Steven Milloy
Why is NBC airing Al Gore’s Live Earth concert this weekend? Why are Democrats, who claim to support the Fairness Doctrine, not objecting to this outright gift of unequal broadcast time to just one side (theirs) of a controversial political issue? Those are the terrific questions asked by FOX News’ John Gibson this week.
Here are some answers, John.
First, the parent company of NBC is the General Electric Company, a corporation that is aggressively lobbying for global warming regulation. GE belongs to a lobbying group called U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) – a group of regulation- and congressional pork-loving companies that have joined with radical environmentalists to push for mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and a so-called cap-and-trade system under which companies could buy and sell rights to emit greenhouse gases.
The corporate members of USCAP have different reasons for wanting global warming regulation. Oil company BP-America, for example, is owned by its British parent, BP.
European governments and companies expect that global warming regulation will give them a competitive advantage over U.S. businesses.
Global warming regulation, for example, would force the U.S. to use less coal and more natural gas in the production of electricity. This would increase natural gas prices, which would not only hamper U.S. growth but also profit the UK-based BP, which derives most of its revenues from gas sales.
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Companies like Alcoa and Dupont expect that, in return for their support of global warming regulation, Congress will reward them by giving them free, but valuable emissions permits which the companies could then sell in the open market for huge profits. As USCAP says on its web site, its members want “rewards for early action.” But these rewards amount to nothing more than taxpayer-funded pork-barrel spending and global warming “earmarks.”
Electric utilities that belong to USCAP, like Duke Energy and PG&E Corp., expect to benefit from higher energy prices, which tend to be associated with higher profit margins. Additionally, these higher energy prices and profits — because they will be based in government-sanctioned environmental policies — will likely be politically protected (unlike the ratepayers who will foot the higher bills).
What’s GE’s particular interest? GE’s ostensible rationale is that it hopes to profit by selling high-priced global warming-related and alternative energy products, ranging from solar panels and wind turbines to compact fluorescent lightbulbs and nuclear power plant technologies.
But the problem with the profit-motive for GE, of course, is that the company is a highly-diversified conglomerate – its other business interests include medical technology, financial services, advanced materials, aircraft engines and security technology. GE is so diversified, in fact, that its overall business performance tends to track that of the general economy.
So if global warming regulation harms economic growth – as is near-universally expected – it likely will also harm GE’s business prospects, especially since the Ecomagination product line represents a very small part (about 7 percent) of GE’s total revenues.
So there must be more to GE’s lobbying for global warming regulation than profit. That additional motivation may be the self-promotion of GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt.
Immelt inherited the CEO job from the legendary Jack Welsh. But while Welsh famously grew GE into a financial colossus, GE has been treading water under Immelt’s leadership. GE’s stock has mostly traded in a relatively narrow range since Immelt took over and has significantly underperformed the broader market.
So, in 2005, Immelt adopted image-building as his key to success – hence the re-branding of regular GE products into trendy “Ecomagination” products. The idea for GE’s Ecomagination marketing strategy came not from engineers who had new product ideas, but from PR consultants hired to burnish GE’s brand. Immelt then became a global warming regulation advocate, one of the first CEOs to do so.
Immelt has been feted by environmentalists and the media ever since, even being honored earlier this year by the World Resources Institute – a gloom-and-doom eco-advocacy organization that GE supports. At WRI’s 25th anniversary dinner in February,
Live Earth concert organizer Al Gore personally presented Immelt with the WRI’s “Courage to Lead” award.
Also in attendance at the dinner was New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman who stated, “We are in a political season and the rules governing columnists at The New York Times is that we are not allowed to endorse presidential candidates. But I'm going to break that rule tonight if you promise not to tell anybody: I'd like to nominate Al Gore and Jeff Immelt as the geo-green candidates for 2008!”
Immelt hasn’t been good for GE’s stock price but he’s been quite adept at assuming the pose of a corporate eco-hero. So there is no need to wonder why a GE subsidiary (NBC) is so heavily promoting Live Earth.
As to Gibson’s second question relating to why the Democrats aren’t eager to apply the Fairness Doctrine that they’ve recently been promoting to NBC’s broadcast of the one-sided Live Earth global warming rally, the answer is pretty straightforward.
Democrats plan on making global warming a major campaign issue in 2008. The Live Earth concert represents a great way for them to market the issue to young people. Why would they want to spoil Gore’s global warming propaganda-fest by complaining about the lack of equal time for opposing viewpoints?
That said, I’m all for the Live Earth concerts. Between Al Gore and rock stars in private jets and limos, $300 tickets, the global warmers’ intolerance of dissenting views, and the concert’s wanton energy use, mass consumerism and trash generation, I can’t think of a better stage for displaying the over-the-top absurdity of Gore and his gross Green groupies.
Steven Milloy publishesJunkScience.comandCSRWatch.com. He is a junk science expert, and advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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