Immelt became a leader in seeking cap-and-trade legislation to promote sales of renewable energy equipment, like wind turbines, that tap energy sources that are not cost-competitive without subsidies. GE also wants to profit by trading in the carbon dioxide market.
Immelt has used the vast resources of GE to drive his green agenda. NBC Universal – a GE-owned company – promoted an environmental theme in two weeks of programming advertised as “Green Week” and Earth Week” during the past year. In each case, “green” themes were included in the program content.
Immelt also appears to be a good lobbyist among his peers. Two GE board members, James Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips, and Robert Lane, CEO of Deere & Co., also have had their companies join USCAP. Mulva is particularly active in supporting cap-and-trade, although cap-and-trade has the potential to increase the cost of ConocoPhillips’ U.S.-based refineries and harm the firm’s investments in Canadian oil sands.
GE also uses its lobbying budget, which is the biggest in corporate America. Over the past few years GE has spent more than $20 million to influence elected officials. This is more than the pharmaceutical trade association spent in 2007.
Ironically, despite its social engineering aims, GE’s cap-and-trade strategy could backfire on its business. Gambling future revenue on lobbyists is a risky strategy, as the whims of elected officials and bureaucrats change like the weather.
It’s also hard to imagine how a company the size of GE would prosper given the negative impact of cap-and-trade on the overall economy. Larry Kudlow of CNBC - a GE-owned network - polled a panel of economic and financial experts on whether the cap-and-trade bill would help or harm the U.S. economy. Ten of the 12 experts said the bill would be harmful.
Over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition refuting the claim that a relationship between human activity and catastrophic change in the Earth’s climate has been proven. GE certainly has the technical capability to understand the present scientific limitations of climate science, despite the “science the settled” nonsense promoted by the U.N. and Al Gore.
In advancing Immelt’s climate change business strategy, GE is ignoring contrary scientific and economic data. While GE’s actions may make the activists in the left’s Corporate Social Responsibility movement happy, GE’s actions are irresponsible.
Perhaps the most important lesson from the debate of Lieberman-Warner is the recognition that CEOs can be as much of a risk to liberty and limited government as any left-wing politician - a development too important to ignore.