Key private sector decision makers on coal

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

In the United States, two dozen chief executive officers are in charge of companies that own 728 out of the 1,522 existing coal-fired generating units.[1] The total capacity of these 728 plants is 235,927 MW, or 70 percent of total U.S. coal-fired power capacity of 335,891.[1]

CEO Company/Entity Number of Coal Plants in U.S. (2005) U.S. Coal-Fired Capacity (2005) 2007 Revenue Proposed New Plants
Michael G. Morris American Electric Power 63 27,636 MW $12,101 million
David M. Ratcliffe Southern Company 68 26,610 MW $15,140 million Kemper Project
Jim Rogers Duke Energy 70 18,578 MW $12,443 million Edwardsport Plant
Tom D. Kilgore Tennessee Valley Authority (U.S. gov't) 63 17,647 MW $9,105 million
Gary L. Rainwater Ameren 31 10,719 MW $7,380 million
Warren Buffett and Gregory E. Abel MidAmerican Energy 29 10,281 MW $12,376 million Council Bluffs Energy Center Unit 4
John W. Rowe Exelon 21 9,415 MW $18,916 million
Richard C. Kelly Xcel Energy 30 9,021 MW $9,960 million Comanche Generating Station Unit 3
David W. Crane NRG Energy 26 8,657 MW $5,989 million Big Cajun I, Big Cajun II Unit 4, Limestone 3
Anthony J. Alexander FirstEnergy 36 8,495 MW $12,552 million
Thomas F. Farrell II Dominion 32 8,417 MW $15,674 million Wise County Plant
Wulf H. Bernotat E.ON 29 8,347 MW $108,026 million Trimble County Generating Station 2, Kingsnorth Power Station (U.K.), High Marnham Power Station
Mark M. Jacobs Reliant Energy 26 8,133 MW $11,208 million
Anthony F. Earley Jr. DTE Energy 22 7,997 MW $8,506 million
William D. Johnson Progress Energy 23 7,924 MW $9,153 million
Paul J. Evanson Allegheny Energy 22 7,636 MW $3,307 million
David Campbell Luminant 9 6,137 MW $8,500 million Oak Grove Plant, Sandow Unit 5
James H. Miller PPL 13 5,981 MW $6,498 million
Paul Hanrahan AES 29 5,406 MW $13,588 million
Edward R. Muller Mirant 18 4,075 MW $2,019 million
William D. Harvey Alliant Energy 30 4,055 MW $3,438 million Nelson Dewey Generating Facility
J. Wayne Leonard Entergy 5 4,014 MW $11,484 million Little Gypsy Repowering
Bruce A. Williamson Dynegy / LS Power 12 3,755 MW $3,103 million White Pine Energy Station, Longleaf, LS Power Elk Run Energy Station, Midland Power Plant, Plum Point Energy Station, Sandy Creek Plant
Paul M. Barbas DPL 11 3,521 MW $1,516 million
Robert C. Skaggs Jr. NiSource 10 3,470 MW $6,894 million

Rolling Stone Magazine calls out so-called "Climate Killers"

In the January 2010 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, journalist Tim Dickinson profiled the top 17 United States "polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming". Below are excerpts from the article.[2]

Warren Buffett

Despite being a key adviser to Obama during the financial crisis, America's best-known investor has been blasting the president's push to curb global warming — using the same lying points promoted by far-right Republicans. The climate bill passed by the House, Buffett insists, is a "huge tax — and there's no sense calling it anything else." What's more, he says, the measure would mean "very poor people are going to pay a lot more money for their electricity." Never mind that the climate bill, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would actually save Americans with the lowest incomes about $40 a year.
But Buffett, whose investments have the power to move entire markets, is doing far more than bad-mouthing climate legislation — he's literally banking on its failure. In recent months, the Oracle of Omaha has invested billions in carbon-polluting industries, seeking to cash in as the world burns. His conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, has added 1.28 million shares of America's biggest climate polluter, ExxonMobil, to its balance sheet. And in November, Berkshire placed a huge wager on the future of coal pollution, purchasing the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for $26 billion — the largest acquisition of Buffett's storied career. BNSF is the nation's top hauler of coal, shipping some 300 million tons a year. That's enough to light up 10 percent of the nation's homes — many of which are powered by another Berkshire subsidiary, MidAmerican Energy. Although Berkshire is the largest U.S. firm not to disclose its carbon pollution — and second globally only to the Bank of China — its utilities have the worst emissions intensity in America, belching more than 65 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2008 alone.
As a savvy investor, Buffett would only buy a coal-shipping railroad if he felt certain that Congress will fail to crack down on climate pollution. "Whatever hurts coal also hurts the railroad business," observes Peter Gray, a corporate climate attorney at the international law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge. "Mr. Buffett must believe that efforts to adopt cap-and-trade legislation will fail."
That's a strange position for the billionaire to take, given that he's promised to donate more than 80 percent of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "As someone who is giving so much money to international development, Buffett ought to know better," says Joe Romm, who served as an assistant energy secretary under Bill Clinton. "He ought to have spent a great deal of time considering the greatest threats to developing countries — which would have quickly educated him about climate change."[2]

David M. Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe, the head of America's second-dirtiest electric utility, has assembled an army of 63 lobbyists — almost twice as many as any other company — to defeat climate legislation. It's a pro-carbon dream team, anchored by Jeffrey Holmstead of Rudy Giuliani's law firm, who worked on behalf of utilities like Southern as a top clean-air official under George W. Bush. The reason for the lobbying blitz: Southern burns a lot of coal — its largest plant produces more carbon pollution than all of Brazil's power plants combined — and new limits on emissions being considered by the Senate could cost the utility some $400 million a year. That's why Ratcliffe continues to deny the reality of global warming: "I don't believe there's an impending catastrophe," he says, insisting that the environment will simply "adapt to changing realities."
"The value of his stock trumps everything," says Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club. "It's hard to imagine a more cynical attitude. But no doubt he genuinely sees it that way — his bottom line is the measure of the world."[2]

Don Blankenship

In an age when most CEOs are canny enough to at least pay lip service to the realities of climate change, Blankenship stands apart as corporate America's most unabashed denier. Global warming, he insists, is nothing but "a hoax and a Ponzi scheme." His fortune depends on such lies: Massey Energy, the nation's fourth-largest coal-mining operation, unearths more than 40 million tons of the fossil fuel each year — often by blowing the tops off of Appalachian mountains.
The country's highest-paid coal executive, Blankenship is a villain ripped straight from the comic books: a jowly, mustache-sporting, union-busting coal baron who uses his fortune to bend politics to his will. He recently financed a $3.5 million campaign to oust a state Supreme Court justice who frequently ruled against his company, and he hung out on the French Riviera with another judge who was weighing an appeal by Massey. "Don Blankenship would actually be less powerful if he were in elected office," Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia once observed. "He would be twice as accountable and half as feared."
On the national level, Blankenship enjoys a position of influence on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has led the fight to kill climate legislation. He enjoys inveighing against the "greeniacs" — including Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Al Gore — who are "taking over the world." And he has even taken to tweeting about climate change: "We must demand that more coal be burned to save the Earth from global cooling."
In more unguarded moments, however, Blankenship confesses that his over-the-top rhetoric is strategic. "If it weren't for guys like me," he says, "the middle would be further to the left." He also admits that his efforts to block climate legislation are ultimately self-serving: "It would probably cut our business in half."[2]

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005", Energy Information Administration website, accessed April 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "The Climate Killers" Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone Magazine, January 2010.

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