Let's go back to December 2008, just after Barack Obama won the presidential election. Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was mentioned as a possible candidate for Secretary of Energy. Instead, President Obama appointed a scientist, Dr. Steven Chu.
Around that same time, coal ash — something Duke Energy has a lot of — became a hot topic after some of it broke through an earthen damn and smothered a river in Tennessee a couple days before Christmas.
The Obama administration promised to regulate the stuff, just as it promised to regulate other coal-related things, like mercury. So far, the administration has made little real progress. (Read my CL report: "FAIL: Government oversight remains 'grossly inadequate' in coal-ash waste control")
Or, as the Center for American Progress put it in the headline of this story: "Government’s Support for the Fossil Fuel Doesn’t Jibe with Its Pledge to Reduce Pollution."
Shuffle along a couple years and we can now thank Rogers, in large part, for helping Charlotte get blessed — or cursed, perspective depending — with the Democratic National Convention, which will descend on the city next September. Rogers' company has offered financial backing and he's even heading up the DNC's Host Committee along with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.
According to WCNC:
Foxx and Rogers will be co-chairs of the Host Committee, which will serve as the link between the convention and the public. That committee's role includes finding ways to include the public in convention activities.
While Rogers and Duke Energy are kissing up to the DNC, the company is working hard to become an energy monopoly in North Carolina, convince regulators to raise energy rates and spend millions each year to thwart any attempt by the Obama administration to regulate coal.
Today, Bloomberg is reporting that the coal industry's "shadow" will follow Obama's campaign through election day, citing dueling ad campaigns between the American Lung Association and the coal industry. Considering the reality that Duke Energy is all up in the Democrats big party next year, I'd say Bloomberg's assessment is fair:
A coal industry ad depicts a rodeo, with a nurse, a businessman and a construction worker struggling to stay atop bucking bulls.
“Today, too many Americans are just trying to hang on to their jobs,” a male narrator says. “So why is the EPA in a rush to push regulations that would saddle Americans with higher energy costs and throw even more of us out of work? The EPA needs to slow down. Tell Congress to make sure they do.”
Unlike an EPA proposal on ozone, which Obama scrapped in September, the mercury regulations could become a political winner, said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch in Washington.
“The opposition is nowhere near as broad nor as intense” as it was to the smog rules, O’Donnell said in an interview. “And the White House would like to keep health and environmental groups on its side.”
In fact, Obama’s re-election campaign is already taking credit for the regulation, saying on its website that, under Obama, the EPA “has set the first national standards for mercury emissions” from power plants.
Read the entire article, by Julie Bykowicz and Mark Drajem, here.
Here's a coal ad I bet we won't see on T.V. this election cycle:
Image credit: DayLife