There’s no doubt about it: Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is the most adept figure in corporate America at making himself look better than he is.
He’s proven it again in an extremely flattering profile in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
The piece refers to Rogers as “one of the electricity industry’s most vocal environmentalists.” Indeed, the piece reports that many “prominent environmentalists” are his “friends” and quotes in particular Eileen Claussen, head of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, saying, “It’s fair to say that we wouldn’t be where we are in Congress if it weren’t for him,” and that “he helped put carbon legislation on the map.”
That legislation, the Lieberman-Warner bill, sputtered apart when the Senate took it up. (Even though we’re told Barbara Boxer staged a post-failure victory celebration. Never underestimate the power of self delusion in Washington.) And one reason for its demise was the active opposition of Rogers, who mobilized numerous businesses to complain about the costs.
Rogers’ angle was pretty obvious. Even though the flawed legislation would have given his company $1 billion dollars in free carbon permits, it wasn’t enough. He wanted much more. In effect, he demanded ransom. All the while he cheerfully chats about “decarbonizing” his coal-burning company. Right.
Of course, that is not the only Duke double-speak when it comes to the environment. You may recall that Duke led an effort to gut EPA requirements designed to require cleanup of existing electric power plants when they make major modifications (so-called “new source review”). The case went all the way to the Supreme Court before Rogers lost. And one of his company’s arguments was that it would be preferable to use a “cap and trade” approach to reduce emissions.
Yet Rogers is also fighting in court against the Bush cap-and-trade strategy for reducing power plant emissions of deadly sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. (The Clean Air Interstate Rule, a compromise plan backed by most environmentalists.)
If Rogers wins that case — and a decision is imminent from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — more than 10,000 Americans will die prematurely each year from the extra pollution.
Rogers really does have a hell of a PR machine.