Energy execs ahead of the curve

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


In another sign that the energy industry is preparing for the inevitable crackdown on emissions, the CEO of Duke Energy, Paul Anderson, announced today that the time has come for the US to adopt a mandatory nationwide carbon dioxide tax—a move which has some shareholders a bit perplexed. To quote Anderson:

You can imagine the reaction I get when I say ‘carbon tax’ in the hall’s of Duke Energy. One employee wrote me that as a shareholder, he couldn’t fathom why I would advocate a position that would discourage use of our product by potentially increasing its price.

Even so, there have been other signs that energy companies feel compelled to act, as many in the financial community feel that the time has come to hedge their bets against impending CO2-reduction standards in the future. With the passage of the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year, many shareholders of energy corporations are already demanding to know how their companies are preparing to meet requirements and protect their investments against lawsuits and fines.

According to Anderson, although a national tax would mean bigger utility bills and higher gas prices, unless the industry takes the lead, the long-term outcome could be even more disastrous:

“If we (the energy industry) ignore the issue, we would be the easy target,” he said, referring to lawsuits against the industry. “The worst scenario would be if all 50 states took separate actions and we have to comply with 50 different laws.”

As we’ve seen recently with mercury emissions reduction passages, inadequate federal rules—or the lack of them—can spur states into taking action of their own. Already, nine states have sued the EPA over its mercury plan, and are looking ahead to creating stricter plans of their own. Anderson acknowledged that the U.S. is not likely to see a carbon tax until we see a new president, but that the time has come to be proactive and help shape policy at the federal level.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate