Southern Company's 'Big Bets' on Kemper 'Clean Coal' Plant: A Rigged Game?

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart crossposted from Climate Investigations Center

From the very beginning, the story of utility giant Southern Company's Kemper clean coal plant is a long trail of broken promises, according to a New York Times investigation - and the project's numerous critics.

These include many of the 186,000 utility customers in 23 largely rural, mostly low-income counties in southeastern Mississippi that are now on the hook for a good part of the plant's estimated $6.6 billion cost - this after Southern promised them and state and federal officials in 2010 that the first-of-its-kind power station wouldn't cost more than $2.4 billion. 

That figure lasted only a few months, followed by a promise of $2.8 billion. 

Bankrupt Coal Miner Peabody Energy Paid Climate Denialist Craig Idso To Write Greenhouse Gas Reports

A research center that has produced scores of reports dismissing the dangers of human-caused climate change was being paid by coal company Peabody Energy to produce reports about its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CSCDGC) is revealed as having historical financial ties to Peabody in the coal company’s bankruptcy papers.

A DeSmog investigation has also uncovered undisclosed financial links between the center, run by veteran climate science denialist Craig Idso, and another contrarian group, the Science and Public Policy Institute.

Peabody Energy was revealed as a funder of a web of groups and organisations that have worked to spread doubt over human-caused climate change while fighting rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Idso, the chairman and founder of CSCDGC, has written many reports claiming that extra carbon dioxide is a benefit to the planet, while ignoring or downplaying the many negatives.

Fate of Keystone XL Pipeline Could Be Decided in a Texas Courtroom Before NAFTA Tribunal Considers TransCanada’s Suit

Texas landowner Michael Bishop continues to challenge TransCanada’s right to build the southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline, renamed the Gulf Coast pipeline when the project was divided into segments. Meanwhile, TransCanada is suing the United States for not being granted the presidential permit needed in order to build the Keystone XL's northern route. A win for Bishop in his suit against TransCanada Keystone Pipeline L.P. in Nacogdoches County District Court could complicate TransCanada’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) challenge.

Bishop is suing TransCanada for “fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, misrepresentation, perjury, theft, bribery, and violating plaintiff’s rights as delineated under the Constitution of the State of Texas.” His case alleges TransCanada doesn’t rightfully possess common carrier status, which enabled the company to use eminent domain. 

American Petroleum Institute Forming Climate Change Task Force?

It isn’t hard to find critics of the American Petroleum Institute's CEO Jack Gerard in the community of people who care about the climate. However, it is perhaps telling that the Washington Post reported that when they asked oil industry insiders to describe him, one response was “Voldemart.” 

In addition to such “compliments” from his industry peers, the work Jack Gerard performs netted him over $13 million in 2013 alone. 

In that same Washington Post article it was noted that a former API board member said “for my taste the whole organization is far too aggressive.” But that board member probably doesn’t make $13 million a year.  

With the API producing slick ads with its Vote4Energy “energy voters” saying they “don't buy it” that fossil fuel energy is harmful to the environment, it is clear that the organization remains aggressive. 

SEC Charges "Frack Master" Chris Faulkner, Shale CEO and Industry Advocate, with $80 Million Fraud

At the start of June, Chris Faulkner, Chief Executive Officer of Breitling Energy, was a high-flying shale company executive and media darling, often interviewed on CNN, Fox Business News and even the BBC. During his most recent appearance on CNN on June 2nd, he weighed in on the financial prospects for drillers who survive low oil prices despite the spate of bankruptcies sweeping the shale industry.

It was hardly the first time the Texas oilman aired his views on the national stage. “The era of coal is coming to an end,” Mr. Faulkner told The New York Times in June 2014. “We are entering the era of natural gas.”

“Instead of rejecting promising new energy-extraction techniques, citizens should work with responsible energy companies to preserve the benefits of fracking, while stamping out current abuses,” he said in the Wall Street Journal in August of the same year.

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