Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Old Misdirection Play by PGE (Pollution Generating Enterprise)

Portland General ElectricThe #1 polluter in Oregon, happily profiting by destroying the climate. Image via Wikipedia

Magicians trick us by getting us to watch the wrong thing. So too with corporations. When challenged for numerous bad acts, they like to focus your attention on the one that they have a ready response for, which has the effect of directing the conversation away from the most serious problems and focusing it on the one that they'd prefer you think about:
PGE did right thing
A letter to the editor Oct. 10 regarding the Boardman power plant ("Boardman must close") makes a good point: Pollution from mercury is a significant environmental and health concern.

That's why Portland General Electric participated in and supported the most comprehensive study of the sources of mercury pollution in Oregon to date, several years ago, in cooperation with the Oregon Environmental Council. That's also why we've agreed to install new emissions equipment that will allow the Boardman plant to meet one of the most stringent mercury control standards in the nation.

Cleaning up mercury in our environment from human sources -- mine wastes, cement kilns, power plants and other industrial activities -- is good public policy. We're working hard to aggressively reduce the Boardman plant's environmental impact while keeping this dependable source of electricity available for our customers.

Southwest Portland
Plantico is director of environmental policy for Portland General Electric.
Thus, with PGE, which is starting to grudgingly come out of the dark ages on the neurotoxic mercury emissions from its Boardman coal plant---the better to avoid discussion of the plant's CO2 emissions (the biggest in the entire state of Oregon) . . . emissions that the mercury control equipment will actually increase!

That's because all the exhaust-pollution control equipment on the emissions stream at Boardman will reduce the plant's operating efficiency, meaning that it will burn more coal to produce the same amount of power. For PGE, the goal is ensuring high profits from combustion of "cheap" coal (only cheap because they don't have to include the cost of sending the climate into a chaotic new unstable state) for decades more -- even as they pass every dime of the cost of the p0llution controls onto ratepayers.

It's lemon socialism at its finest --- PGE creates the problem, we have to pay to clean it up, and they get to profit even MORE from both creating the problem AND from what we spend to clean it up (the cost of the pollution control equipment is considered "capital investment" by PGE, so it shows up as "their" investment when rates are set, so they get a bigger flow of cash every year in return for using our money to fix only the smallest part of their pollution problem and ignoring the truly critical CO2 problem). Nice, eh!

The letter also shows how nicely Oregon's environmental groups have been coopted and outplayed by PGE--- they do most of the misdirection work for PGE for free, persuading people to focus on tiny incremental improvements in the plant's pollution output, while not mentioning the only solution that makes sense from an economic or environmental point of view: shutting down Boardman ASAP.
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A worthy group we'll all need one day

Cremation Chest (cinerarium) Roman 20-40 CE MarbleRoman cremation chest. Image by mharrsch via Flickr

Funerals are one of the biggest ripoffs in modern America. Nearly five decades after Jessica Mitford's expose of mortuary greed and wheeling dealing, it's only become worse. Luckily, there's an alternative for those of us in Salem (and elsewhere in Oregon):

The consumer-run non-profit called the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Oregon, part of a national network. They do one thing: help people make plans for the handling of their remains in a way that suits them (including in more environmentally friendly ways) so that nobody falls prey to any of the vicious operators who use grief and shock as tools to separate families from staggering sums of money.

Join. Make your plans (but don't prepay!). Contribute to FCAO. You can participate in managing the alliance if you wish. Just don't put it off -- by the time you need this, it's too late.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Oregon

FCA of Oregon is dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a dignified, meaningful and affordable service at end of life, whether it be a funeral, cremation, or memorial service.

This is the place to find free information to help you plan end of life services for yourself and family members.

Click on “Join” to download a membership form which you can complete and mail to FCAO.

You can obtain free educational materials, brochures and information about funeral choices. See “Member Options”.

The companies listed under “Participating Mortuaries” have all agreed to provide FCAO members with reasonably priced arrangements so that members may plan their funerals in advance.

Our organization welcomes opportunities to provide speakers at small or large groups (churches, civic groups, retirement homes, hospice, etc.) increasing public awareness of funeral options.

Our membership is open to residents of western Oregon or southwestern Washington. To find an FCA affiliate in other areas of the USA please look at the national FCA Affiliates Listing.

Portland Area: (503) 647-5590
Toll Free: 1-888-475-5520
13038 SE Kronan Drive, Clackamas, OR 97015

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