Following the Money on Cap and Trade

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is under attack by some of its members for its opposition to the Cap and Trade bill. The Natural Resources Defense Council, through its blogs and through the website whodoesthechamberrepresent.org maintains a running watch on those altruistic companies who have either quit the Chamber or publicly disputed its Climate Change position.

To the NRDC, companies that stick with the Chamber’s anti-Cap and Trade position are motivated strictly by greed, whereas the companies listed above are driven by the purest of altruism.


Quit the U.S. Chamber over climate: Apple, Exelon, PNM Resources, PG&E, PSEG, Levi Strauss & Co, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Mohawk Paper.

Quit the U.S. Chamber Board over climate: Nike.

Refused to join the U.S. Chamber over climate: NRG Energy.

Companies that say the U.S. Chamber doesn’t represent their views on climate: Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Alcoa, Duke, Entergy, Microsoft, Toyota, Royal Dutch Shell, Seventh Generation, Dow, PEPCO, Cisco Systems …

Altruistic? Ehhhhh. Let’s follow the money.
Rearranging the list:

Exelon (Chicago), PNM Resources (Albuquerque), PG&E (San Francisco), PSEG (Newark, NJ), NRG Energy (Princeton, NJ), Duke Energy (Charlotte), Entergy (New Orleans), PEPCO (D.C.) (In aggregate, these companies have over $100 billion market capitalization.)

General Electric, Royal Dutch-Shell, Duke Energy

REPRESENTING ECOTOPIA (San Francisco/Pacific Northwest): Apple Computer, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, PG&E

OTHERS: Mohawk Paper, Toyota (hybrid cars), Seventh Generation (a maker of “green” cleaning products), J&J, Dow Chemical, Alcoa.

Do you find it a little odd that nearly half the list is comprised of electric utility holding companies?

What do they have in common?

For one thing, they all own old-technology coal fired electrical generating plants. The Dems have offered them beaucoup carbon credits in return for their support of Cap and Trade.

For another, their utility businesses are monopolies which enjoy guaranteed returns, under the watchful and protective eye of the various state regulatory bodies.

Regulated monopolies are outside the realm of entrepreneurial capitalism. They are insensitive to capital costs (whether it be a “smart grid” or a “clean coal” power plant), because the more it costs, the more profit they make. New capital investment is just rolled into their rate base, upon which their state public service commission allows double digit returns, at no risk to the utility.

And in this case, that capital investment will be financed by the funny money of carbon credits.

It’s odd that the same folks who got their panties in a wad over Halliburton’s no-bid cost-plus contracts in Iraq have no problem with such a sweetheart deal.