California's biggest utility, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has two starkly different faces: the one it shows Californians, and the one people see nationally. On the national scene, PG&E has appeared to be a strong advocate for renewable energy, and backs climate change legislation in Washington, D.C.
BP, now officially responsible for the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history, has hired former Vice President Dick Cheney's campaign press secretary, Anne Womack-Kolton, to head its American public relations efforts. Womack is a former employee of the PR firm APCO Worldwide, perhaps best known for its work on behalf of the tobacco industry. In 1995, Philip Morris hired APCO to orchestrate a massive national "tort reform" movement, and in 1993, PM hired APCO to organize the front group The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition to attack the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after it rated secondhand smoke a Group A Human Carcinogen, the same rating the agency gives asbestos and radon gas. Womack also served as a White House spokesperson, defending Bush's White House Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives. In announcing Womack-Kolton's hiring, BP only mentioned that she had been director of public affairs for the Department of Energy (DOE) under George W. Bush, but a DOE press release boasts about her links to Cheney.
News photographers are saying that their efforts to document the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials working with BP.
Who is going to pay to clean up BP's disastrous oil spill, besides BP? After all, they made $14 billion in profit last year alone. BP has asserted it will pay all "legitimate claims" for damages -- talk about a lot of wiggle room there -- but beyond actual cleanup costs, BP's economic damage liability is legislatively, and outrageously, capped at $75 million, a pittance to a company that made 186 times that amount in profit in 2009. Senate Democrats attempted to increase the liability cap to $10 billion by proposing and passing a bill, but their efforts were thwarted by Senate Republicans. The current tally for the cleanup cost stands at $760 million, but that is surely understated.
Eighteen years ago, the government set up the EnergyStar program to help guide consumers to the new appliances that are the most energy-efficient, cost the least to operate and help reduce the nation's total energy consumption.
A Democratic Illinois state representative quietly slipped five words into the definition of renewable energy in a bill that would clear the way for a power company to burn tires as a way to reap green energy credits. Representative David Miller, who is running for state Comptroller, inserted the words "incineration of burning tires" into the definition of renewable energy in a measure that was intended to promote wind and solar energy.