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Sierra Club and Chesapeake Energy: Long Live Enron!

Reading about Sierra Club’s apparent issue advocacy on behalf of the anti-coal natural gas industry, worth nearly seven million dollars per year to Sierra according to Time Magazine, I recalled an infamous memo to Enron’s ‘global warming’/‘clean energy economy’ team from their own ambassador to the greens, John Palmisano.

I knew of that memo having been interested most things Enron since my unhappy three-week or so stint as Enron's Director of Federal Government Relations in 1997, my hasty departure precipitated by a negative response to my audacity in questioning Enron’s strategy: near-pure rent-seeking, which means making your money the old fashioned way, by policy favors from buddies in government, executed in Baptist-and-Bootlegger coalitions with green groups.

Here is the memo’s opening, and see if you can catch the illuminating sentence (also helpfully underlined, to separate it from the rest of the eye-openers for those subjected to endless mis-reportage on the actual sources of support for and opposition to the ‘global warming’ agenda):

To: Terry Thorn, Joe Hillings, Cynthia Sandherr, Jeff Keeler, Fiona Grant, Hap Boyd, Bill Shoff, Dan Badger, Tom Kearney, Lynda Clemmons, Bruce Stram, Mike Terraso, Rob Bradley, Jim O’Neill, John Hardy

From: John Palmisano

Date: December 12, 1997

Subject: Implications of the Climate Change Agreement in Kyoto & What Transpired

This memo summarizes the implications of the agreement reached in Kyoto and also describes what I was doing and provides some observations.

Implications

If implemented, this agreement will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring of the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States. The potential to add incremental gas sales, and additional demand for renewable technology is enormous. In addition, a carbon emissions trading system will be developed.

Yep. And all-too-common today, a business plan consisting of efforts to lobby “regulatory initiatives” into place. GE, anyone?

Enron’s faves were cap-and-trade (euphemised above as “a carbon emissions trading system”), renewable energy mandates, and what is now called ‘green jobs’. Like GE. And Chesapeake.

So, with that Sierra/Chesapeake revelation in mind I read on through the old document, seeing that it did indeed omit Sierra Club from the list of groups whose love for Enron and their shared agenda -- more windmills (from Enron Wind, now GE Wind) and less coal, necessitating more gas...hey, where have I heard that before? -- should be “monitized”.

Through our involvement with the climate change initiatives, Enron now has excellent credentials with many “green” interests including Greenpeace, WWF, NRDC, GermanWatch, the US Climate Action Network, the European Climate Action Network, Ozone Action, WRI, and Worldwatch. This position should be increasingly cultivated and capitalized on (monetized).

(Parenthetically, I heard many times people refer to Enron in glowing terms. Such praise went like this: “Other companies should be like Enron, seeking out 21st century business opportunities” or “Progressive companies like Enron are….” Or “Proof of the viability of market-based energy and environmental programs is Enron’s success in power and SO2 trading.”) h/t MasterResource.org

Maybe Sierra only recently learned about business from their green brethren.  Still, there we have it. Enron is dead. Long live Enron.