Friday, December 28, 2007

Environmentalism for Profit

On December 18, the U.S. Senate passed such high energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs, fluorescents will be the only ones legally sold in the United States by 2012. And the clearest winner is not the environment, nor the public. It's multinational corporations General Electric and Philips, according to Timothy Carney in his article, How many lobbyists does it take to change a light bulb?. Incandescent bulbs sold for 31 cents will be replaced by fluorescent lights that cost $4.50 each. The green movement is indeed the colour of money.

On Dec. 18, the day the bill cleared its biggest hurdle and passed the Senate, GE’s stock jumped 8.8 percent, and Philips jumped 2.1 percent.

These companies will get rich thanks to energy bill, but it’s not clear the public or the environment will share the windfall GE and Philips will experience. GE makes its CFLs and other fancy light bulbs in China, while it makes its incandescents in the United States.

The light bulb law will ship more American jobs offshore, shift manufacturing to China’s dirtier and less efficient factories, and increase shipping distances. Add in the mercury, and it’s not clear how good this law is for the environment. Its clearest benefit is to the companies who lobbied for it.

Democrats came to Washington promising to end the influence of big business lobbyists. The energy bill — with its gifts to aluminum giants such as Alcoa, ethanol moguls such as Goldman Sachs and Archer Daniels Midland, and now GE, Sylvania and Phillips — shows that the doors of power are as wide open to corporate lobbyists as they have ever been, as long as the lobbyists are dressed in green.

1 comment:

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