NY Times: Everybody Loves Energy Regulation

    To The New York Times, balanced reporting on global warming is just a matter of how better to run up your cost of living: higher taxes or more regulation.

     Finding “a surge in support in business and politics for cutting emissions,” reporter Steve Lohr opened his December 12 story with a look at the CEO of a utility company that supports regulation.

     It’s “something of a surprise that James E. Rogers” of Duke Energy “has emerged as an unexpected advocate of federal regulation that would for the first time impose a cost for emitting carbon dioxide,” Lohr noted, adding, “But he has his reasons.”

     Nowhere in Lohr’s story – more than 2,000 words – was any consideration given to critics of taxes and emissions caps, or to skeptics of the theory that global warming is primarily caused by human activity.

     “Climate change is real, and we clearly believe we are on a route to mandatory controls,” Lohr quoted Rogers, who added that “the longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive this is going to be.”

     Of course ecological concern may be a factor, but Lohr only casually hinted at a financial incentive for Rogers’ company.

    Duke Energy also produces “electricity from carbon-free nuclear reactors,” Lohr noted, although he didn’t explain the business advantage a federally mandated cap-and-trade emissions market might mean for Rogers’ company.

     Lohr followed in the footsteps of other journalists such as CBS’s John Blackstone in glossing over the self-interest energy chiefs can find in more government regulation.

     In his August 31 “Evening News” report, Blackstone showcased Peter Darbee of Pacific Gas & Electric as an enthusiastic backer of emissions initiatives and painted the regulation as a boon to free market enthusiasts.

     “Let the market handle it,” Blackstone asked Darbee about the emissions trading market. “Exactly right,” the utility chief replied.

    But as BMI reported then, the so-called market-based solution is just more regulation on private industry, which some experts have said will result in no net reduction in carbon emissions. In Darbee’s case, his company could simply trade with companies located out of state and not subject to California’s restrictions.

    In Duke Energy’s case, a nationwide trading system could benefit the company, which produces some electricity from nuclear power plants.

    An alternative to emissions trading would be “to impose a price on carbon dioxide emissions, as the Europeans have done,” wrote Lohr, avoiding the t-word: taxes.